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Ann Arbor's Progress On Racial Balance Noted

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LANSING- The State Board of Education may consider "requesting" local school districts to submit plans to elimínate instances of "racial isolation." Such action might be necessary, SBE staff members said, in order to qualify Michigan for up to $40 million in federal funds which could become available to help focal school districts' desegregation efforts. That approach was raised at a recent State Board meeting by Dr. John W. Porter, superintendent of public instruction, and Marvin Tableman, special assistant to the superintendent for equal educa-, tional opportunity. Porter said that further analysis of the previously released second annual racial census report showed Michigan schools have made only "slight progress" in meeting desegregation policies adopted by the board in 1966. However, Porter said several districts- such as Albion, Ann Arbor, Baldwin, Cassopolis, Battle Creek Kalamazoo, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Westwood- have started or continued racial-balance programs, and that "the distribution of black and white students in these districts is discernibly different from the patterns established in other districts." But Porter said the general picture was that about three-fourths of Michigan's schools had not altered their racial composition between the first racial census in 1966-67 and and 1968-69 study. A third census, for the 1969-70 and the 1968-69 study. A third census, for the 1969-70 school year, has been completed, but detailed analysis is still being made. Going back one year, though, Tableman said there was data that about 12 per cent more districts had "bi-racial situations" than in the first census report. There is some evidence, he said, that there is some fringe-area movement of Negro students into schools that were previously all white. Of the one-quarter of the school buildings which showed some change in racial composition, about 17 per cent moved toward reduction or elimination of racial isolation, about 7 per cent toward racial isolation, Tableman said. Urban school districts outside the Detroit metropolitan area showed the most progress, he said, in reducing racial isolation, and there has been a significant drop in the number of all-white schools in other out-state districts. The proportion of black pupils attending schools that are predominately Negro (those with 50 per cent or more black students) remained about the same. In the Detroit área," where the most serious condition of raciáv isolation exists," he said, the number of racially-isolated schools has increased, however. Congress entered the picture just last August by enacting the Emergency School Assistance Program which is providing $75 million for local school districts desegregating voluntarily or under court that act- Battle Creek, Baldwin, Cassopolis, Lansing and Pontiac. Only Pontiac is now under a court desegration order. " The State Board of Education has not quibbled, over whether a district is considered racial imbalanced as a result of "de jure" (by law) or "de facto" (by fact) situations in urging them to change their make-ups. Congress also is considering put the emergency program on a continuing basis. Michigan districts might be eligible for some $40 million annually under such legislation, if the federal legislation is revised somewhat before passage and if the State Board could show that is asking racially-imbalanced districts to submit plans to elimínate the condition. The Department of Education staff report states the SBE might need to "request" such local-district plans, but one official acknowledged that "the request probably would really have to be a directive if the schools wanted to get the federal money." SBE members have yet to formally discuss the staff report, but some differences of approach have surfaced. Board Treasurer James F. O'Neil, R-Livonia, noted his often stated position that more instruction in "citizenship and morality" would be a big help in solving racial problems, perhaps more help than new legislation or federal aid. Vice President Thomas J. Brennan, D-Dearborn, said that more citizenship and morality might be fine, but that, "I don't necessarily agree that the only way to bring real change is in the hearts and minds of the people." "I think people do tend to change their views when they contradict the law," Brennan said. It apparently will be some months before the State Board reaches a decisión on which way go on the racial balance questions.