- A new 108-page Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that the percentage of schools with high numbers of low-income black or Hispanic students increased from 9% to 16% in the last 14 years.
- The study, which comes amid the 62nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, also showed that many of these schools have extreme racial and economic concentrations, with between 75-100% of students being black or Hispanic and poor.
- Schools with high percentages of poor students of color also had disproportionately less math, science and college preparation courses, and significantly higher rates of students suspended or expelled.
Though the new GAO report clearly signals a need for U.S. school districts to focus on desegregation efforts, and the relationship drawn between harsh punishments and a lack of academic rigor shouldn't be surprising. Segregated schools aren't only an equity and civil rights issue, it's also an economic one. To find solutions, lawsuits and court orders have been filed to force changes.
A recent study by University of Southern California sociologist Ann Owens, published in the American Sociological Review, finds school segregation has risen with income inequality, creating a cycle of unequal access to educational opportunities. In many locations, school quality is tied to income tax revenue from families in feeder neighborhoods. As the nation's income gap continues to grow, so do disparities between schools.
In the wake of the report's release, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has called for a better use of information in tackling the problem. In a press release, the group noted, "Armed with the analysis and recommendations outlined in the GAO report, the Lawyers’ Committee will continue to demand that low-income and minority students have access to more resourced, integrated learning environments and that policymakers implement the interventions available to mitigate the growing segregation within the nation’s schools."