Monday, March 15, 2010

Desegregation Outcomes

The primary focus of the 1985 reorganization was integrating the schools--in particular, integrating the black and white populations. The Asian, Latino, and Middle Eastern populations were much smaller than they are today.
I was interested in the immediate impacts of this reoganization, but unfortunately I did not have time to dig through the microfiche and find the 1986 enrollment numbers. As a result, this post takes a much longer view of this reorganization. On the one hand, this is somewhat unfair, since the committee that developed the reorganization was only able to estimate out about five years. In taking the long view, I also need to recognize that there have been some (relatively minor, with the exception of the re-opening of Lakewood and the opening of Skyline) changes to the individual school boundaries over the years.
[By the way, his post gets a little numbers-heavy. I think the numbers tell the story, but if you don't, skip to the end. Also, for the purposes of counting here, I count Ann Arbor Open as an elementary school.]

At the time of the report (1985), the AAPS African-American population was 17% of the total schools population, and the state considered a school out of balance if the African-American population was + or - 15% points compared to the district average, which is how the state recommended a 2-32% guideline for Ann Arbor. The Committee on Excellence chose a more restrictive +/- 5-15% range.

If we look at the racial makeup of the schools today, the African-American population average is still between 12 and 27%, the goal of the committee. In September 2009 it was at 14.5%. Some individual schools are much higher or lower.  Angell School, for instance, has an African-American population of only 3.6%, and in total, the following schools fall below 12%: 9 elementary schools (give Logan a pass at 11.8%), 2 middle schools, and Community High School.

On the other end of the spectrum, Roberto Clemente's African-American population is 82.3%--but I should note that this was true back in 1984, and I guess because Clemente and Community were and are magnet schools, the committee was unable to address the numbers through redistricting--though they did say they hoped to reduce the achievement gap. (In fact, lawsuits against the schools, and Proposal 2, have limited options on this front even more.

So, aside from Clemente, the schools that are over the 27% number today comprise a much smaller number: Mitchell, Scarlett, and Stone.

[In 2002, by comparison, 8 elementary schools and Community High School were below 12% (Not including Forsythe, at 11.7%). No elementary schools were above 27%, but Scarlett, Clemente, and Stone were above 27%.]

If we look at the 2009 African-American AAPS population percentages, however, we only get part of the story. 
For while the African-American school population has shrunk slightly as a percentage of the school population, the Asian, Latino, and Middle Eastern populations have increased greatly. Where the fall 2009 headcount counts African-American students as 14.5% of the population, the Asian population comprises 14.2% of the population.
So, using a broader lens, let's take a look at Angell School again:
3.6% African American
32% Asian, 
4.2% Middle Eastern, 
5.8% Multi-ethnic, 
.3% Native American, 
.6% Other, 
4.9% Latino/Hispanic, and 
48.5% White. 
In other words--even though Angell doesn't meet the criteria of 12-27% African American, it clearly is diverse.
You might be surprised to know that the district, on average, is now 52.8% White. If I were to say that a range of 42-62% White was acceptable as a range for desegregation, these schools would be below 42% White: 7 elementary schools (at 41.9% I will give Thurston a pass), Scarlett Middle School, and Clemente and Stone high schools. These schools would be above 62%: 4 elementary schools, Forsythe Middle School, and Community High School.

And if we were to set up a committee to strive for racial balance today, we would find that the Asian AAPS population is highly concentrated in some schools, and barely present in others. Using that same 12-27% range, there are 10 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 3 high schools that that come in under 12% Asian population, and there are 5 elementary schools that are over the 27% number.

It is worth noting, however, that the 1985 reorganization had at its core, not 1, but 2 significant goals related to racial integration. One goal was "the elimination of racial isolation," which was considered an important value in and of itself. Although I hesitate to call that the "primary goal," it was in fact the driving force behind the reorganization. And although the reorganization was not, and is not, perfect--from the point of view of eliminating racial isolation, I think the work of the committee stands on its own, and 25 years later, it stands pretty well.

At the time, the Committee on Excellence of Education noted that
On a district wide basis, the academic performance of minorities lags far behind that of the majority population. Minorities are significantly overrepresented in lower curricular paths and significantly underrepresented in advanced courses of study. Disproportionately high numbers of minorities are the subject of disciplinary action. . . Measured by the critical index of progress toward educational opportunity, the Ann Arbor School District, in this regard, is in crisis.
The second goal, then, was the goal of reducing the achievement gap. Twenty-five years later. . . countless policy papers later. . . many efforts later (and whether these efforts have been wrong or inadequate--or both--we'll leave for another time). . . this goal remains elusive, and has not been achieved.

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