Showing posts with label school desegregation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label school desegregation. Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2009

School Desegregation in Peoria, Illinois


A Staff Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, June 1977.

In 1966 when initial planning for desegregation began, minority students were concentrated in 9 of Peoria's 39 schools. Twenty of the city's schools had white enrollments of more than 98 percent, indicating the most minimal percentage of minority students in more than half the city's schools. Four schools were totally white.

The Board fully realized that the Peoria Public Schools must be integrated promptly to insure quality education and equality of educational opportunities for all children.

The plan was quickly put into effect to coincide with the fall 1968 opening of Peoria’s schools. A few incidents of limited physical violence occurred but the Peoria Journal Star, in its account of the desegregation process noted, "There were no major incidents. Busing, at least on a limited basis and as long as it did not involve advantaged whites, seemed to work well in Peoria.

In some respects, the Peoria schools during the 1970s began to look more segregated than even prior to the initiation of desegregation. In 1966 Peoria's minority students were concentrated in nine schools; eight of these schools failed to meet State guidelines because they had an over population of minority students. By the 1975-76 school year, the district had a total of nine schools which had an overpopulation of minority students by State standards.

[...]

On January 8, 1976, the Illinois Office of Education announced that Peoria District 150 was not in compliance with State desegregation guidelines. The State found 20 Peoria schools not in compliance and ordered the district to submit detailed desegregation plans. The order noted that failure to do so could result in a loss of funding and further legal action by the State. A new plan from the district has now been received by the State and is currently under review.

Superintendent Harry Whitaker agreed that Peoria's schools should be within the State guidelines, but has also argued that the district should not be made to bus white students to predominantly black schools to achieve this end:

"We believe in integration. There's no question about that," Mr. Whitaker stated, "but we don't believe in integration to the point that we have to move youngsters back and forth. We think that that is going to be detrimental....My goal is not to re-segregate District 150, but, hopefully, to maintain the community as it is now."

Read the entire report here.