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New Study Charts City Schools' Racial Balancing Over Decades

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CHICAGO--Desegregation plans that provide for the busing of students between central-city and suburban schools are more effective in producing lasting integration than more limited types of plans, a new study released here concludes.

Plans that are limited to central-city school districts, regardless of whether they require or merely encourage student busing, have had difficulty maintaining previous integration gains in the face of declining white enrollments, the study said.

The new findings are contained in a comprehensive study of large-city enrollment and desegregation trends commissioned by the National School Boards Association's Council of Urban Boards of Education.

Its findings were presented here to school-board members from cities across the nation who gathered in late June to discuss equity issues raised by the rapidly changing demographics of urban school systems.

20 Years of Change

The new report, which focuses on the nation's 60 largest districts, is the first to examine 20 years of changing enrollment and desegregation patterns in these cities.

Data for the study were drawn from the U.S. Education Department and analyzed by Frank Monfort, a demographer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Gary Orfield, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.

Among its other findings are these:

  • Several suburban school districts, including Dekalb County, Ga., Long Beach, Calif., and Prince George's County, Md., are undergoing the same demographic changes traditionally seen in central cities, and have experienced substantial declines in white enrollments.
  • The 25 largest central-city school districts now enroll 27.5 percent of the nation's black students and 30 percent of its Hispanic students, but only about 3 percent of its white students.
  • The five largest city districts that have the most racially segregated schools based on two or more commonly accepted measures are Atlanta, Gary, Ind., Newark, New Orleans, and Washington.

Copies of "Change and Desegregation in Large School Districts'' can be obtained from the National School Boards Association, 1680 Duke St., Alexandria, Va. 22314. --WS

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