The first effects of Metro Schools' controversial new Student Assignment Plan were presented Tuesday night, and contrary to the charges of “resegregation” which have surfaced in the face of the plan, the student shuffle appears to have lowered the number of Metro schools with a single demographic majority.
The data released to Board of Education members compared the demographics of the first 20 days of the 2009-10 academic year with data from October 2008.
According to those figures, this year 62 schools in the district have a majority of black students, a decrease of six schools from last year; two schools currently have a Hispanic majority, three schools less than 2008's figures; and the data says 27 schools in the district have a majority of white students, two less than last year. With the shift, 46 schools in the district currently have no majority race, which represents a 13-school increase.
“We don't feel the report shows any extreme variations in the change in diversity of these schools, and as well, when you look at the capacity, it will show we're actually better utilizing our facilities,” Chris Weber, the district's director of student assignment services told the board.
The plan, which ends mandatory busing of students from north Nashville to Hillsboro and Hillwood high schools has had an effect on those two locations, according to the data. Hillsboro's Asian population dropped to 2.3 percent from 2.9 percent last year; the school's black population increased to 55.7 percent from 53.4 percent; its Hispanic population rose to 4.3 percent from 4.0 percent; and its white population dropped to 37.6 percent from 39.2 percent last year.
Hillwood this year has seen an increase in Asian population to 7.5 percent from 4.6 percent last year; the black population has dropped to 38.9 percent from 47.3 percent; the Hispanic demographic rose to 7.1 percent from 6.0 percent; and its white population rose to 46.1 percent from 41.6 percent last year.
In his presentation, Weber pointed out the data is still being analyzed.
“This is really still unofficial data. We're doing everything we can to pull data as early as possible. And really until this data is prepared and clean enough for us to submit reports to the state, we want to continue to consider it unofficial until that point,” he said. “But we do feel the data is very accurate and we recognize the need for us to begin analyzing this data as soon as possible.”
Following the presentation, School Board Chair David Fox read a statement saying the plan “is not discrimination” and that the recent NAACP-backed lawsuit challenging the organization has no merit.