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DATABASE: How "school choice" has changed metro-Detroit school districts

Sep 16, 2016

More than 152,000 students in metro Detroit attend class in a district or charter other than the district where they live. As minorities move into some districts, other students use the state schools-of-choice law to move to less-diverse districts.

Families say they use "choice" to move their kids to higher-performing, or safer, schools. Consciously or not, however, this law has left many districts in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County more racially segregated.

Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Mike Wilkinson looked at how this happened in Eastpointe:

The white flight seen in Eastpointe is playing out in districts across metro Detroit and around the state. In the past 20 years, as African Americans have moved out of Detroit and into the suburbs, white parents have, whether by chance or design, used the state’s schools of choice program to move their children to less diverse, more white traditional public schools. At the same time, some black families have chosen historically white suburban school districts to send their children, while others are choosing charter schools that are strikingly more segregated and black.

As a result, school districts across parts of the state are ending up more racially segregated than the communities from which they draw students. 

How to use this database

Choose a district or county to get a snapshot of its student population. To get more information, click on the "Out" and "In" boxes, which show how many students are coming into a district via choice or leaving. Follow the prompts to compare districts' racial makeup.

Support for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Michigan Radio comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism's Michigan Reporting Initiative, the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.