Sunday, May 16, 2004

City schools less diverse now

Many whites simply moved out of district

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Chris Greene and daughter
Kristin Greene walks her 11-year-old daughter, Aeriez Greene, home from school.
(Melissa Heatherly photo)

Cincinnati's black public schoolchildren are more likely to attend mostly black schools today than a half-century ago.

About a fourth of students in Cincinnati Public Schools now learn in schools that are more than 90 percent black.

One reason is the change in racial makeup: Blacks were 23 percent of students in the 1950s. Now, they're 70 percent.

School officials say the district has worked hard to ensure equality, including equalizing funding among schools and creating magnet programs that enroll students from across the city. But many wealthier families have left for private or suburban schools.

Some parents and activists criticize the lack of diversity.

chart Herbert Shapiro, whose daughter, Nina, was a white plaintiff in a 1974 lawsuit that sought to desegregate Cincinnati schools, says he joined the suit so children could experience different cultures.

"Desegregation should not only be of concern to black parents and black schoolchildren, but should be of concern to us all," says Shapiro, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Cincinnati.

Problems in the city schools have forced other parents to act.

Kristin Greene, PTA president at Washington Park School in Over-the-Rhine, says she plans to remove her fifth-grader because the school lacks basics such as textbooks that children can take home. She'll enroll her daughter in Covedale School, which she says has a more challenging curriculum and more resources.

"I want her to be exposed to as much as she can," Greene says.


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