Study: Open Enrollment Taking Schools Back to Segregation Era

Updated: 01/11/2013 11:15 PM By: Todd Wilson

Open enrollment for Minnesota schools, it was designed to encourage racial integration. Some folks say it is working.

"I think the biggest hindrance is separation," concerned parent Victor Rangel said.

About a year and a half ago the University of Minnesota decided to find out if open enrollment was all that it was hyped up to be. And what the university found was that the metropolitan area has gone from about nine racially segregated schools 10 years ago to about 109 last year.

"A lot of times kids that are low income or non-white don't have parents that will drive them to a different district. It tends to be kids who have more social capital," University of Minnesota Professor Myran Orfield said.

Orfield says, open enrollment  the thought was, if kids could choose to go to districts outside their neighborhood that would encourage more integration.

"We found that 36% of the moves of kids using open enrollment were moves of white kids away from racially diverse school areas into much whiter school areas," Professor Orfield said.

Orfield says, overall, the study shows that when white kids leave a racially diverse district to go to whiter ones, it leaves the schools they left less racially diverse and poor. And if a district is going to have open enrollment, they should recruit all races.

Read the study here.