With the many commemorations and media articles and stories surrounding the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision that outlawed racially separate but equal schools, there’s been a focus on the progress of school integration and questions whether public schools are becoming more racially segregated.
Indianapolis was one of many cities that practiced legal racial segregation of its public schools. And a federal judge ordered racial desegregation of the Indianapolis Public Schools and six other school districts within Marion County.
Given the long court case and many years of court ordered busing to achieve racial balance and the huge growth of the African-American community from the old IPS district into Indianapolis township neighborhoods, WTLC-AM (1310) “Afternoons with Amos” and the Indianapolis Recorder, decided to examine the state of racial segregation and integration of the public schools in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis public schools, both in the 11 districts and its 36 charter schools are a far, far cry from rigid racial segregation of this city-county’s past. Of the 225 public schools in Indianapolis-Marion County, every school has African-American and non-Hispanic white students enrolled. And all but one of those schools also has Hispanic students enrolled.
Of the 55,384 African-American students attending Indy public schools this year, 58.2 percent attended a school where Blacks were in the majority; while 41.8 percent attended schools where Blacks were in the minority.
Some 41.2 percent of all Black students attend a school where Blacks comprise between 50 percent and 75 percent of the enrollment. Another 17 percent attend more segregated schools where over 75 percent of the students are Black.
Sociologists say schools that are 90 percent or more of one race are schools that exhibit “severe segregation.” By that measure, few African-Americans attend such a school.
Only 7 percent of Black public school students in Indianapolis attend a public school that has 90 percent or greater African-American enrollment. On the flip side, just 0.02 percent, or 12 African-American students, attend a public school that’s 90 percent or more non-Hispanic white.
African-American student integration in Indianapolis
Integration of Black students is strongest in Decatur, Franklin, Lawrence, Perry, Washington and Wayne townships, and in Beech Grove and Speedway. The highest percentage of Black students attending Black majority schools is in Pike Township (88.7 percent), IPS (79.9 percent), charter schools (77 percent) and Warren Township (76.5 percent).
In Pike, where Blacks make up 59 percent of the district’s total enrollment, 10 of the district’s 13 schools have Black majorities between 50 percent and 75 percent.
In Warren, where Blacks comprise 48.3 percent of the district’s total enrollment, nine of the district’s 17 schools have Black majorities between 50 percent and 75 percent.
One of the shocking surprises in the data concerned charter schools.
In IPS, 31.4 percent of Black students attend a school that’s 75 percent or more Black. But of Black students in Indy’s charter schools, 47.9 percent attend a school that’s 75 percent or more Black.
Indy’s heavily segregated schools
Of the city-county’s 225 public schools, just 13 were found to be “severely segregated” with enrollments that are 90 percent-plus Black or more.
Only three of those were IPS schools. The remaining were charter and takeover schools; all but one of which are supervised by Mayor Greg Ballard’s Office of Educational Innovation.
Just 7.2 percent of IPS’ Black students attend a school that’s 90 percent or more Black.
But over a quarter, 27.8 percent of Black charter school students attend a severely segregated charter school.
Only one public school in the city-county has an enrollment that’s 90 percent or more white non-Hispanic. There are no public schools in Indianapolis that are severely segregated for Hispanics.
Regarding the high number of 90 percent-plus Black charter schools supervised by the City’s Office of Educational Innovation, Deputy Mayor Jason Kloth cited the outstanding academic achievement of those schools. In a statement Kloth added, “We certainly value racial and socioeconomic diversity in public schools. However, the demographics of both traditional public schools and charter schools tend to reflect the neighborhoods in which they are located.”
However, many charter school students don’t reside in the schools’ immediate neighborhoods.
Breakdown of schools by key diversity measures
Schools between 50 percent and 75 percent African-American enrollment:
Decatur, Franklin, Perry, Washington townships – None.
Lawrence Township – Brook Park Elementary, Indian Creek Elementary, Winding Ridge Elementary, Skiles Test Elementary.
Pike Township – Fishback Creek Public Academy, Deer Run Elementary, Pike High School, Lincoln Middle School, Guion Creek Middle School, Central Elementary, Eastbrook Elementary, Guion Creek Elementary School, Snacks Crossing Elementary, New Augusta Public Academy South, New Augusta Public Academy North.
Warren Township – Warren Central HS, Creston Middle School, Stonybrook Middle, Grassy Creek Elementary, Lakeside Elementary, Sunny Heights Elementary, Brookview Elementary, Creston Intermediate Academy, Stonybrook Intermediate Academy.
Wayne Township – North Wayne Elementary.
Indianapolis Public Schools – A total of 25 schools. Arsenal Technical HS, Crispus Attucks HS, Broad Ripple HS, Northwest Community HS, Shortridge HS, Cold Spring School, Key Learning Community Junior High, Shortridge Junior High, Broad Ripple Junior High, Crispus Attucks Junior High, George Washington Junior High, Washington Irving School 14, Northwest Junior High, Key Learning Elementary, James Russell Lowell School 51, Brookside School 54, Eliza A Blaker School 55, Francis W. Parker School 56, Wendell Phillips School 63, Floro Torrence School 83, Francis Scott Key School 103, George S. Buck Elementary, Key Learning High School, Clarence Farrington School 61, Center for Inquiry III.
Takeover – Howe HS, Arlington HS
Charter – Fall Creek Academy, Indiana Math & Science South, Flanner House Elementary, KIPP Indianapolis, Charles Tindley School, Indianapolis Lighthouse, Monument Lighthouse, Andrew J. Brown Academy, Andrew Academy, Challenge Foundation Academy, Indianapolis Metropolitan HS, Tindley Preparatory Academy, Carpe Diem, Indiana Math & Science Academy, Indiana Math & Science North, Excel Center, Phalen Leadership Academy, Nexus Academy, Tindley Collegiate Academy, Tindley Renaissance Academy, Imagine West
Schools that are 75 percent or higher African-American enrollment:
Indianapolis Public Schools – John Marshall HS, John Marshall Junior High, Key Learning Center, Elder Diggs School 42, James Whitcomb Riley School 43, Riverside School 44, Louis B. Russell School 48, Mary Nicholson School 70, Joyce Kilmer School 69, George Fisher School 93, Frances Bellamy Preschool Center, Charles Fairbanks School 105, Robert Lee Frost School 106, Lew Wallace School 107, Arlington Woods Elementary
Takeover – Arlington HS
Charter – Fall Creek Academy, Flanner House Elementary, KIPP Indianapolis, Charles Tindley School, Monument Lighthouse, Andrew Academy, Challenge Foundation Academy, Indianapolis Metropolitan HS, Tindley Preparatory Academy, Indiana Math & Science North, Phalen Leadership Academy, Tindley Collegiate Academy, Tindley Renaissance Academy
Schools that are 90 percent or higher African-American enrollment:
Indianapolis Public Schools – Louis B. Russell School 48, Joyce Kilmer School 69, Robert Lee Frost School 106
Takeovers – Arlington HS
Charters – Charter – Flanner House Elem, KIPP Indianapolis, Charles Tindley School, Andrew Academy, Challenge Foundation Academy, Tindley Preparatory Academy, Phalen Leadership Academy, Tindley Collegiate Academy, Tindley Renaissance Academy
Schools that are 75 percent or more non-Hispanic white:
Decatur Township – Decatur Township HS, Gold Academy, Decatur Middle School, Stephen Decatur Elementary, Valley Mills Elementary, Decatur Discovery Academy, West Newton Elementary.
Franklin Township – Franklin Central HS, South Creek Elementary, Franklin Township Middle School East, Franklin Township Middle West, Mary Adams Elementary, Arlington Elementary, Bunker Hill Elementary
Lawrence, Perry, Pike, Warren, Washington, Wayne Township – None
Beech Grove – Beech Grove High School, Beech Grove Middle School, Central Elementary, South Grove Intermediate, Hornet Park Elementary.
Indianapolis Public Schools – Center for Inquiry II
Speedway – Carl Fisher Elementary
Charter – University Heights Preparatory