published Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Racial equity in Chattanooga studied

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TENNESSEE NATIONAL RANKINGS

Black equity

• 24th -- Chattanooga

• 41st -- Nashville

• 56th -- Knoxville

• 57th -- Memphis

Latino Equity

• 16th -- Chattanooga

• 21st -- Knoxville

• 51st -- Memphis

• 63rd -- Nashville

Source: The Urban Institute


CHATTANOOGA'S SCORES

• White-Latino equity: A

• Residential segregation: B

• Neighborhood income gap: A

• School test score gap: A

• Employment gap: C

• Homeownership gap: D

• Black-white equity: B

• Residential segregation: D

• Neighborhood income gap: C

• School test score gap: A

• Employment gap: A

• Homeownership gap: C

Source: The Urban Institute


ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB

A complete map of the racial equity grades and numerical scores is available at: http://tinyurl.com/7ptjsma.

Source: The Urban Institute

Chattanooga leads the state's four largest metro areas and ranks in the top 25 percent of the nation's cities in terms of racial equity, a new report card shows.

The Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that tracks U.S. social and economic issues, ranked Chattanooga 24th overall in the country for black-white equity and 16th overall for white-Latino equity.

The institute released its first report card Thursday on how the nation's top 100 metropolitan areas fare in terms of black and Latino equity. The study was based on 2010 U.S. census data and a Brown University study of education quality.

Local leaders hail the ranking as good news, but at least one local minority leader questions whether the study accurately reflects the status of Chattanooga's minorities.

"Once again we're on the short list of progressive communities," Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said. "It's not about how pretty the city is, it's about diversity and fairness. We have, over the years, just encouraged integration, and I think it's paying off."

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said much of the credit belongs to county schools and the community's emphasis on education.

"I think we're obviously becoming a more diverse community; we've made a lot of improvements in the last decade," Coppinger said.

The metro area's lowest scores are in home ownership and residential segregation, prompting Coppinger to say, "We've still got a lot of hard work to do,"

Joe Rowe, local NAACP first vice president for Political Affairs, doesn't think the study accurately reflects the situation for most minorities in town.

"The reality is everything here seems to be going in the opposite direction of how they rated it," Rowe said. "Test scores are really on the decline. I would be willing to say that the unemployment here is much higher for African-Americans."

The Urban Institute's Margery Turner said that, even though the study ranked cities on a curve, the metro areas all have work to do to close equity gaps.

"Even the high performers still have significant gaps in neighborhood, schools and employment and home ownership," Turner said. "It's not as if the high scorers can declare victory and forget about these issues."

Turner said she was surprised that the study, the first of its kind by the institute, found that midsized metros in the South and West fared well against cities such as Chicago, New York and Boston.

"I think we see a lot of those metro areas kind of locked in to persistent inequality and persistent opportunity gaps," Turner said. "Some of the smaller and medium-size metropolitan areas across the South have a history of their own in terms of racial inequality, but as of today, seem less trapped in these residential and school patterns of the past."

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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