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Minorities Turn To Private Schools

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Minority enrollments in independent schools increased significantly last year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools (nais).

In 1980, the number of minority students in independent schools increased 6.1 percent over the previous year's total. In 1979, there were 23,221 minority students, representing 8.8 percent of the total enrollment, in independent schools.

Minority students now number 24,631--or 9.1 percent of the total student population in such schools, reports the independent-schools association.

The average enrollment in its 809 member-schools last year increased by about 1 percent to more than 315,375 students. Some 303,361 students were enrolled in 784 schools in 1979, nais says.

Anne Rosenfeld, the organization's director of public information, said schools with predominantly minority populations were excluded from the study.

"African-Americans" constituted the largest group (47.9 percent) of minorities in member-schools, according to the survey. But, it found, "Native-Americans and Asian-Americans" increased to 34.6 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively, of the independent-school minority population.

There was no significant change in the Hispanic population.

Boys' boarding schools showed the largest growth in minority enrollment over the previous year, up from 12.2 percent in 1979 to 14.8 percent in 1980. Independent schools in the East and West had the highest percentages of minority enrollment.

Special recruitment programs and the availability of financial aid have been instrumental in increasing minority enrollments, said Ms. Rosenfeld. Last year, the association's advertisements in minority periodicals offering information on independent schools and their application procedures resulted in over 2,000 responses.

In addition to providing $91 million in financial aid to 51,000 students, many member-schools also offer loans and deferred-payment programs designed to assist middle-income families.

Ms. Rosenfeld said nearly half of minority students enrolled in independent schools receive some form of financial assistance.

William Boyd, nais board member, said that aggressive recruitment of black students by independent schools is not the only reason for the reported enrollment increases. Black families, he said, are realizing that there is an alternative to local parochial schools. He said the increase can also be attributed to the growth of black middle-class families.

"There's no question that there's an economic revolution in this country," Mr. Boyd said. "There are black families who can look at a $4,000 tuition and not run from it."--S.F.

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