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Total Enrollment, And 'White Flight' Decline in Chicago

"White flight" from the Chicago public schools has slowed for the second consecutive year but total enrollment is at its lowest point since 1970, according to the school system's annual student racial and ethnic survey released earlier this month by Superintendent of Schools Ruth B. Love.

White enrollment declined 5 percent, from 71,171 students in the fall of 1982 to 67,829 students as of Oct. 31, 1983.

The decline was the smallest in 15 years, according to Ms. Love, who said that average yearly decreases in white enrollment have ranged from 6 to 11 percent since 1971.

"We are encouraged by these statistics. They suggest that Chicagoans are regaining confidence in their public schools," Ms. Love said.

She also credited the "smooth implementation" of the school board's desegregation plan and the development of special programs (most notably magnet schools in computer education, fine arts, and foreign languages) with stemming the exodus of white students.

Total enrollment in the public-school system--the nation's third largest--fell by 1 percent from 435,084 students in 1982 to 434,042 students last fall.

Enrollment has reached its low point, according to the survey; demographic data indicate that it will start to increase gradually beginning next year.

Of the total student population in the Chicago public-school system, 60.6 percent are black, 21.2 percent are Hispanic, 15.6 percent are white, 2.4 percent are Asian and Pacific Islander, and 0.2 percent are Indian and Alaskan, according to the survey.

Number of Women Administrators Stays Same in N.Y.C.

The percentage of women in administrative supervisory positions in the New York City Public Schools is the same now as it was in 1978, according to a study conducted by the Women's City Club of New York.

Five years ago, the last time the civic group surveyed such positions, 26 percent of the city's principals and superintendents were women.

"Since 1978, there has been no change in the gross underrepresentation of women in top-level positions in New York City public schools," the report maintains. Women hold approximately 59 percent of the teaching jobs in the city school system.

The study, which was conducted last spring, looked at 1,214 top positions in each of the city's 32 community school districts and in all of the city's elementary, intermediate, and junior high schools.

In one position--that of high-school principal--the proportion of women administrators increased from 12 percent to 21 percent, according to the study. High-school principals are appointed by the chancellor. But the proportion of high-school assistant principals and principals of special-education schools, also named by the chancellor, either declined or remained about the same, according to the survey. And the number of women occupying positions of district superintendent--which are chosen by locally elected school boards--was five out of 32 for both 1978 and 1982.

Officials in Mr. Alvarado's office said they could not comment on the club's findings because, according to Marie L. DeCanio, a senior assistant to the chancellor for personnel and labor relations, the city is currently involved in a federal-court case brought by two female guidance counselors who allege they have not had access to supervisory positions.

Ms. DeCanio did say that some of the figures reported in the study are not accurate, including the number of assistant principals at the high-school level. "There are many more than they have recorded in the report," she said, adding that she plans to meet with the City Club's statistician.

Ms. DeCanio also noted that Mr. Alvarado's task force on sex equity, which was appointed in November and held its first meeting last month, plans "to look at all matters relating to the elimination of sex discrimination, bias, and stereotyping in the public-school system and to promote sex equity for students and employees."

The task force, whose members include leaders of city women's organizations, unions, and members of the chancellor's staff, plans to look at vocational high schools to make sure they are treating women enrolled in traditionally male courses equitably, and to come up with a five-year sex-equity plan for schools and employees, according to Ms. DeCanio.

Desegregation Suit Opens in Cincinnati

A 10-year-old desegregation suit concerning the Cincinnati public schools went to trial last week, while the parties continued court-ordered discussions aimed at a settlement.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in Bronson v. Cincinnati Board of Education, argues that the city school district, the Hamilton County Board of Education, and the Ohio State Board of Education contributed to racial isolation in the school district. Cincinnati's public schools now enroll about 52,000 pupils, 57 percent of whom are black, according to Lynn E. Goodwin, the district's treasurer.

The school board maintains that any racial imbalance in the schools results from housing patterns and that the district has aggressively promoted integration through an extensive system of magnet schools, an open-enrollment plan that permits all integrative student transfers, and a policy of closing and rezoning schools with an eye toward improving racial balance.

According to previous court rulings in the case, the trial will focus only on events since 1965, when the school district was exonerated, in Deal v. Board of Education, of illegal segregation from 1954 up to that point.

U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice, who is presiding at the trial, last month dismissed the NAACP's case against 17 suburban boards, on the grounds that the civil-rights organization failed to prove the board's actions had any significant impact on segregation in Cincinnati. He was expected to dismiss the last suburban defendant, the Oak Hills district, as soon as lawyers for the district prepared the proper motions.

Mr. Goodwin said the trial could last at least three months. Meanwhile, negotiations, which began last month, will continue under the supervision of two court-appointed mediators. "The discussions are very close to the vest," Mr. Goodwin said. "The only thing that it's fair to say is that they are serious and still ongoing."

Vol. 03, Issue 17, Page 3

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