ETI Publications

Document Type

Technical Paper

Publication Date



School desegregation was initiated in Milwaukee in the 1976-77 school year through a court-ordered city desegregation program and a state-financed city-suburban pupil transfer program. This pilot study by the Metropolitan Integration Research Center explored three dimensions of the complex interrelationships between these school desegregation programs and housing patterns in Milwaukee County. First, a field study explored the attitudes of minority families participating in the innovative city-suburban school desegregation program. The survey found high satisfaction with the educational program and relatively strong interest in possible integrating housing moves to suburban areas where children were busing to school. Secondly, the pupil movement under the city and metropolitan desegregation plans was assessed for its impact on segregated residential housing patterns in the community. The largely voluntary plan implemented by the Milwaukee Public Schools appeared to have negative impacts on racially changing neighborhoods. The highest percentages of students were leaving schools in residentially integrated areas, and schools in transitional areas were allowed to "tip" to predominantly black. The third aspect of the study analyzed federal rental housing programs operating in the county. The Section 8 rent assistance program, operated by three governmental units in Milwaukee County, appeared to reinforce the segregated housing patterns of the community and failed to complement school desegregation efforts. Scattered site and traditional public housing provided by the City of Milwaukee also impacted negatively on the racial make-up of neighborhood schools in the city. The study suggests the need for more coordinated efforts by school and housing officials if successful, long-range integration is to occur.