Grand Rapids Public Schools receives a high segregation index

Nov 8, 2018

Nearly 17,000 students living in the Grand Rapids metro area attend Grand Rapids Public School. ProPublica, an investigative publication, said GRPS is high on their segregation index. 

“Schools that have higher levels of segregation that means that you might see elementary schools which are predominantly black and other elementary schools which are predominantly white. Or you might have middle schools or high schools where there are more black students in one or more white students in another.” 

That is Annie Waldman, one of the reporters at ProPublica who worked on creating the report named ‘Miseducation’. 

“The majority of the data we used for our project which is data from over 96,000 individual public and charter school and 17,000 districts around the country it comes from the federal government specifically the civil rights data collection for the 2015-2016 school year.”  

In Grand Rapids Public Schools, black students are three times as likely as white students to be suspended. And 87% of all the students suspended were students of color. 

“Grand Rapids has made gains, graduation rates have increased, the chronic abseentism has decreased during the tenure of Superintendent Neal.”

Chiming is Dr. Chastity Bailey-Fakhoury, Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Grand Valley State University, explaining that public education was not created with every community in mind. 

“We are really playing catch up trying to transform public education in a way that it does serve the needs of all these communities that public education wasn’t intended to serve in the first place. When we talk about the curriculum, whose stories are being told, is it accurate true information. Are we still saying Columbus discovered America?” 

So, given high degrees of segregation and curriculum that favors certain narratives, we are left with the following question: what kind of student is succeeding in the classroom in Grand Rapids? 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.