In a year where race dominated the national conversation about identity and equality, American education systems grappled with issues of integration and segregation.
Across America, school systems approached segregation with varied success. Two generations of students in Indianapolis lived through the failure of busing, while a Detroit charter school finds state laws in the way of diversity. In New York, schools inch closer to diversity through revamped admissions policies.
These individual snapshots of how America’s cities struggle with issues of diversity, inclusion and equality paint a broader picture of the current state of integration efforts in the US. Learn about how our communities dealt with the issue in 2016.
The end of busing in Indianapolis: 35 years later, a more segregated school system calls it quits
“But now schools in the center city are resegregating, growing more isolated in terms of race and income. Part of that is because the district has shrunk, losing about 30,000 students between 1981 and 2015. The students who left were more likely to be white and more affluent.”
- Detroit just created its first intentionally diverse charter school. Here’s why it might not stay that way
“In the 20 years since charter schools first opened as a free alternative to traditional district schools in Michigan and around the country, many of the privately run, publicly funded schools have focused on serving poor students in urban areas. It’s one of the reasons why charter schools are some of the most segregated schools in the nation.”
- Educators on front line of desegregation debate say city must take the lead
“Some middle-class parents choose to cluster at popular schools that enroll more white students and fewer poor students than the city average. But parents make those decisions within a system of zone lines, school-choice policies, and selective schools that ends up sorting students from different backgrounds into different schools.”
- Brooklyn’s middle schools are highly segregated — but they don’t have to be. How a series of choices has deepened the divide
“Parents on each end of the district tend to choose separate middle schools, with affluent parents on the north end often choosing to exploit their networks and their savvy to cram into the highest-performing ones. Those schools choose to expend considerable energy handpicking students: M.S. 51 pores over the academic and behavioral records of its 10- and 11-year-old applicants, M.S. 447 interviews students and gives them a math or science test, and New Voices requires an audition. And finally, officials choose to allow a system where high-performing students attend one set of schools, and high-needs students attend another.”
Where integration works: How one inner-city Indianapolis private school is bringing kids together
“Lunch at The Oaks Middle School on the northeast side of Indianapolis has a lot in common with meals at any school: Kids carry plastic trays stacked with sliced fruit and chicken nuggets or soft lunch bags stuffed with sandwiches and Doritos. But here, as the hum of chatter and banging of metal chairs fill the small cafeteria, kids head to tables with students from different ethnic and racial backgrounds.”
Check out all of our 2016 Year In Review coverage here. Like what you see? Make a tax-deductible donation to Chalkbeat today to help support our work in 2017 and beyond.