New Ethnic Classification

By: Beth Jett
By: Beth Jett

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"Multi-racial" is a new category this year and nearly 1,300 chose it to describe themselves. Now, school officials wonder how that new choice could change current plans of diversity.

Mike Kinard, who serves Wichita schools in many capacities, remembers the pain and confusion he felt growing up not being able to recognize his heritage.

Kinard, who is the school board president says, "My mother was Japanese, my father was black and coming through school I always had to pick the 'black' box. I didn't have any other choice, but the 'other.'"

But now a federal requirement has changed that, ordering schools to add a new category, "multi-racial," to various forms. It is something students, like Senior Matt Titchenor, are embracing.

Titchenor says, "I'm more than just black. I don't count myself as just African American, so I will usually check African American and Native American if I can."

Meanwhile, school officials realize the new category may have far-reaching affects of the entire district.

Wichita Schools Deputy Superintendent Mark Evans says that the biggest potential impact is on the AAA program, the desegregation program and student boundaries.

Evans says the new category means fewer students qualify for the assigned attendance area lottery, which requires some students be bussed into schools to achieve a racial balance. Kinard, for one, believes that could be good.

School officials say the new category could mean a shift in demographics, which could also mean a shift in school boundaries.

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