Tuesday, January 26, 2016
In 2007, mandatory desegregation ended in Wichita public schools. Under mandatory desegregation, 688 minority students were assigned to schools outside of their immediate neighborhood. In just seven years of post-desegregation policies, the number has fallen to 138. The result is that one in four Wichita schools are one-race schools. In 2013, the district applied for and received a magnet school grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, however, has been far too narrow in scope to make a dent in the problem, which belies another problem: districts want to diversify through magnets, but federal funds are few and far between. In 2013, the Secretary made only 27 magnet school grants in 12 states. In fact, magnet school grants have been held flat for over a decade while funds for charters have increased exponentially.
This has lead the superintendent in Wichita to, in effect, try to make separate equal. Unfortunately, he, like many other policymakers, does not frame it that way or recognize the folly. Instead, "the superintendent, points to millions invested in new or expanded school buildings in northeast Wichita [(the minority community]. . . . Updated facilities, combined with standardized curriculum and professional development across the district, help ensure equity even if the racial balance at some schools is skewed." More here.