CHICAGO — The nation's largest public school districts have become increasingly segregated over the last two decades because of a dramatic rise in Latino students and a steady erosion in Anglo enrollment, a new study released Wednesday concludes.
"The implications are many and most of them are not encouraging," said Prof. Gary Orfield of the University of Chicago, who wrote the study with Franklin Monfort, a University of Wisconsin political scientist.
The study, titled "Change & Desegregation in Large School Districts," was prepared for the National School Boards Assn., and analyzed data from the 60 largest public school systems between 1967 and 1986.
Among its findings:
- Total enrollment declined by 15% in the districts, to 6.7 million, over the 19-year period. White enrollment declined by 16%, while the number of black students increased by 5% and Latino students by 103%.
"Predictions about central-city districts losing the majority of their white students came true," Orfield said, "but now, not only are blacks still being segregated, Hispanics are being more segregated at an even faster rate.
- The 25 largest central-city school districts now serve 28% of all black students and 30% of all Hispanics, but only 3% of white students.
- The school districts that have retained the highest percentage of white enrollment and maintained the most stable integration patterns are those that have employed the most radical desegregation plans.
"The places that have been most successful--Nashville (Tenn.), Las Vegas, most every big city in Florida except Miami--have been those where the city and suburbs are in the same district and you can implement a districtwide desegregation plan," Orfield said.