Hopkins is among the few school districts in the state where open enrollment is not leading to greater segregation between white and minority students, according to a University of Minnesota Law School study published Friday.
The study found that open enrollment increased segregation in the metro region overall between 2000 and 2010, with 36 percent of open enrollment classified as segregative in the 2009-10 school year. By contrast, just 24 percent were integrative. The rest were race neutral.
“Open enrollment allows parents a wider choice in matching a school’s programs to a child’s needs and creates clearer competition between schools that could encourage innovation or improvement,” the study reported. “Yet, open enrollment also enables moves based on less noble motivations that can accelerate racial or economic transition in a racially diverse school district.”
In Hopkins, though, open enrollment increased overall racial diversity. While 77 percent of open enrollments out of the district were white in 2009-10, just 60 percent of those coming in were white.
Overall, 71 percent of resident Hopkins students were white.
Click on the PDF to the right of this article to read the full report. Use the widget above to see the racial makeup of each district in Minnesota.
Still, Hopkins is not immune from the effects of segregative trends. Most of the students leaving the district—or nearly two-thirds of those open enrolling out—went to Minnetonka and Edina. Of those, 89 percent were white.
Diversity and class issues arose most recently in a debate over whether Parkwood Knolls and Walnut Drive property owners in Edina should be allowed to leave the Hopkins school district for Edina Public Schools.
The two school district committees that examined the issue both questioned why advocacy group Unite Edina 273 didn’t include neighboring apartments that are also in Edina. Unite Edina families countered that the request was about neighborhood schools and a sense of community—adding that they don’t think Hopkins schools are in locations that serve the families’ educational needs.
But it was Minnetonka that came under particular fire in the University of Minnesota report. Minnetonka is a district that’s 90 percent white and draws primarily white students from more diverse surrounding districts, such as Hopkins and Eden Prairie. Unlike Edina (and Hopkins), it doesn’t participate in The Choice is Yours Program that allows poor Minneapolis students—who are often minorities—to attend schools in the suburbs.
“The district is known for actively recruiting students away from its more diverse neighbors—a feature highlighted in its recent annual reports,” the report stated. “The fact that most of these students are white raises the question whether it recruits and advertises as actively in racially diverse areas of neighboring districts as in predominantly white neighborhoods.”
Open enrollment plays a key part in Hopkins’ financial health and has helped mitigate declining enrollment. This year Hopkins saw a 3.18 percent increase in open enrollment into the district, all the net benefit for the district has been shrinking as open enrollment out of the district has increased.
Superintendent John Schultz said each family’s enrollment decisions is so personal that he couldn’t speculate on why so many white students are leaving or why open enrollment is increasing diversity at Hopkins as opposed to other schools.
“That’s a real tough question to answer. You’d have to ask the parents,” he said, adding that open enrollment out of the district is a concern whatever the race of the students. “It’s worrisome whenever a student leaves the district.”