School choice producing segregation in districts across the state
Holland, Mich. – For more than a decade, Holland Public Schools has watched its enrollment fall, prompting the closure – and demolition – of multiple schools.
The decline is not the result of an aging community with fewer, school-age children. Rather, it’s largely a reflection of Michigan’s generous school choice policies. Choice has, consciously or not, left districts like Holland not only scrambling for students, but more racially segregated as its white students leave, often for districts that are less diverse.
“When school choice started, that decline started,” said Brian Davis, superintendent of the Holland district. In 2000, Holland had 15 school buildings; it now has eight. About one-in-three students living within the district are now being educated in another district or charter school. Because state education dollars follow students to their new district or charter, Davis said that Holland’s white flight has shaken the district’s finances.