In Minneapolis, White-Flight Era Enrollment Drop Reverses

Steve Brandt, StarTribune, October 30, 2012

It’s not something trumpeted by a school district sensitive to its yawning racial achievement gap, but white students in the Minneapolis public schools are testing above average in Lake Wobegon country.

Non-Hispanic white kids in the Minneapolis district are scoring at a higher level than their white peers across Minnesota in state math, reading and science tests. The gap ranges from a single percentage point in math to 7 points in science.

Those results may reaffirm the decision by more white Minneapolis parents to stay in the district, bucking a trend of families heading to the suburbs when their kids hit school age.

The share of white kids in the district has been rising since 2002. But previously that meant they were leaving a shrinking district more slowly than other racial or ethnic groups, many of whom took advantage of state-funded transport to suburban schools.

The absolute number of white kids bottomed out in 2008. There were a few dozen more white students the following year, and then their numbers jumped by several hundred in each of the next two years. Last year, the 10,999 white students made up nearly one-third of enrollment, up 7 percentage points from 2002.

Blacks represent 36 percent of students, Latinos 19 percent, Asians 8 percent and American Indians less than 5 percent.

One leading critic of metro segregation, Myron Orfield of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, said the prime factor is that growth is strongest in the city’s southwest corner. From a parent’s perspective, low poverty rates, high test scores and a largely white enrollment add up to a student population “very much like the best suburban schools,” he said.


The battered economy has also left parents less willing to invest in private schools. {snip}


Meanwhile in the southwest corner of the city, the lower campus of Lake Harriet Community School is adding space for 125 students. It was the district’s most racially unbalanced school last year at 88 percent white enrollment, which reflects the surrounding neighborhood.


At Sanford Middle School, Principal Meredith Davis arrived in 1998 to an enrollment that was 15 percent white, roughly opposite that of surrounding neighborhoods. Now the school is 40 percent white, the biggest of any racial group. That’s happened even as the school population has doubled, reflecting the closing of nearby Folwell Middle School and more rigid attendance boundaries.

Davis sensed more than five years ago that neighborhood students were returning. “Sanford really changed as a school, and the neighborhood wanted to give it a chance,” she said.

Marketing the superior test results for whites is something the district hasn’t done explicitly, even though it dates back at least five years.

“We’re sensitive in this district, we’re an urban district with many challenges, and we have a large achievement gap, and we are focusing whatever we can on lowering the gap,” district spokesman Stan Alleyne said. That means focusing communication to families and others about how they need to get involved in the education of students.

“At the same time, we cannot ignore our success stories,” Alleyne said, pointing to Southwest High School’s top ranking in Minnesota from U.S. News & World Report.

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  • Puggg

    Basically, this high white growth rate in Minneapolis urban public school enrollment is in a niche part of the city where if there are minorities, then they’re not black.

    • Sherman_McCoy

      Basically, this high white growth rate in Minneapolis urban public school enrollment is also because the lousy economy is making it impossible for parents to flee.

  • Jay11

    Go back 30 years ago and white students were a majority in most schools in the city.  What happened in the interim?  Oh yeah, they imported hmongs, latinos and southern blacks.  How did that work out?

    • JackKrak

      Exactly. Unfortunately, Minnesota is an easy punching bag for this kind of thing. I say “unfortunately” because it’s a beautiful place and most – white – Minnesotans are lovely people but they are as naive as children. Hard to feel sorry for them when they seem hell bent on their own destruction.

  • Golden Rule Macongo Jed

    yawning racial achievement gap

    Are even the liberals yawning at the ongoing gap, as though they are bored with its intractability?

  • “Non-Hispanic white kids in the Minneapolis district are scoring at a
    higher level than their white peers across Minnesota in state math,
    reading and science tests.”

    What the hell?  Non-Hispanic white kids are scoring at a higher level than white kids.  So White kids are outscoring White kids?  How many relatives does George Zimmerman have?

  • Detroit_WASP

    White learners should be ashamed of doing so well.  The oppression is starting all over again! 

    Seriously, maybe this is an unintended consequence.  Detroit spends about $12,550 per student, a 99% black district.  The mostly white suburban districts spend about $10,000 per student but do FAR better than Detroit students on state tests.

    So, perhaps the few white schools in this MN district are getting the same funding and the mostly black schools in the same district, and the white kids are excelling with that extra funding????

    Just a guess.

  • IKantunderstand

    White kids are willing to attend a predominantly White school. Wow. This is HUGE! And they are scoring well. Will wonders never cease? The economy sucks, and people have no choice! What a turnaround to White flight.

  • APaige

    It seems to be very unusual for whites WITH young children to be the first to gentrify a neighborhood. It is typically those without kids-gays, empty-nesters, younger, etc. From the article it seems as though a busing program removed certain kids from this urban area? Does anyone know if the kids just changed schools or did the families move to this area?

    • Flytrap

      If what I have seen in Boston is any example, you are dealing with educated leftist utopians that are willing to sort of put their money where their mouth is.  I disagree with them but respect them for not being hypocrites.

  • I’m sure the left will complain about gentrification “driving low-income minorities out of the city” just as they bemoan “white flight.” Bottom line: We can never do anythng right, and therefore, should stop trying

  • Dan

     Quick! Hurry! Someone alert John Engleman! This simply can’t be true!