The Public Interest

The “White Flight” Controversy

Diane Ravitch

Spring 1978

IN the spring of 1975, James Coleman released the “preliminary results” of a new study concluding that school desegregation contributed to “white flight” from big cities and was fostering resegregation of urban districts. On the basis of his findings, Coleman maintained that whites were leaving both large and middle-sized cities with high proportions of blacks, and specifically that whites in big cities were fleeing integration, while whites in middle-sized cities were “not moving any faster from rapidly integrating cities than from others.” In short, according to Coleman, “the flight from integration appears to be principally a large-city phenomenon.”

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