Vandy researcher says Nashville schools are re-segregating

Jan 24, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A Vanderbilt researcher says Metro Nashville Schools are “re-segregating,” a process he says has been ongoing since 1998.

Luke Rainey is a Research Analyst at Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute. He’s involved in a long-term study of at risk children in Metro schools.

Credit MNPS

In preparation for that study, Rainey dove deep into the school system’s history and student data. Some disturbing trends were revealed.

He notes that it took a lawsuit to force Nashville to begin desegregation three years after the Supreme Court outlawed so-called separate but equal education. Even then, he says it’s clear school administrators were in no hurry.

“They interpreted it as they could take their time. So there was really no comprehensive or really effective plan in Nashville until the 70s or 80s.”

Still more disturbing, Rainey says the data reveals that when court-ordered federal oversight ended in 1998, Metro schools rapidly began to re-segregate.

“From 1998 to 2002 the number of Nashville schools with 70 percent or more black enrollment doubled, though the total number of black students enrolled in the district increased only slightly.”

Rainey says school segregation in Nashville is intimately tied to poverty, the lack of affordable housing, and the absence of jobs that pay a living wage.

He says if Nashville wants to end school segregation, without unpopular solutions like busing, Metro Government will have to do a better job of recognizing and acting on the link between schools, housing and employment.