The largest and longest-running school desegregation program in the nation is coming to an end, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Since the 1980s, more than 60,000 African-American students in St. Louis attended predominantly White county schools. At the same time, White students from the suburbs were allowed to attend magnate schools in the city. But the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, the group that oversees the desegregation program, says it’s time the student transfer program winds down.
“It is a legal requirement that the program cannot continue forever,” David Glaser, executive director of VICC, said at a meeting of superintendents and representatives of the 12 participating school districts, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Under consideration is a plan, beginning in fall 2019, to limit county school admissions to students who have a sibling already enrolled. A vote on that plan is expected by the end of this year.
That plan would be the final extension of a program that came into existence more than three decades ago, following a federal desegregation lawsuit. There was a 10-year extension in 1999, after St. Louis Public Schools and Missouri won federal approval to end federal oversight of the program. Other extensions were later enacted. But as the Post-Dispatch noted, federal courts have ruled that race-based programs must end at some point.
“It’s done what it’s expected to do. It’s given students in the city the chance to interact with students in the county. It’s a program that’s been around a long time and that benefits students in both places,” Kelvin Adams, superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, told the Post-Dispatch.
According to the newspaper, 18 percent of St. Louis’ African-American students attended desegregated schools before the transfers began. That number increased to 55 percent by 1995.
In terms of academic achievement, the Post-Dispatch says there has been mixed results. A 2012 VICC study showed little improvement for elementary school students, but steady improvement for high school students.
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty