Study: Racial segregation remains constant over 15-year period
- Racial segregation has remained constant and economic segregation decreased by 1.8% in 60 school districts with voluntary integration policies studied between 2000 and 2015, according to a study presented at this week's annual American Educational Research Association conference.
- "School and Residential Segregation in Districts With Voluntary Integration Policies," show that the districts studied considered racial or socioeconomic diversity in the development of their policies for school assignment, choice and transfer. The study's authors used free-or-reduced-price lunch eligibility as their economic metric for students.
- Racial segregation in schools remained lower than that of residential segregation among the 60 districts' entire population, suggesting that lower residential segregation isn't the sole factor in lower school segregation.
Despite being 64 years removed from the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark school desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, districts in many states still struggle with the issue. Integration efforts from the '70s and '80s have waned as more recent court decisions permitted a scaling back of oversight for many districts, resulting in some cases in resegregation. Additionally, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 also struck a blow to the way voluntary integration policies are designed, though several decades have seen residential segregation fall slightly.
In one of the most notable resegregation battles from recent years, Central High School in Tuscaloosa, AL, where the court rolled back oversight in 2000 amid attempts to address "white flight" to private and suburban schools, saw its black student population rise to 99%. This was particularly significant in the context that Central was seeing achievement gaps close between black and white students prior to the rollback.
Ultimately, students benefit when exposed to a diverse peer group from varying socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. It can bolster social-emotional skills like empathy that will benefit them later in life when they must work with others who might not have the same backgrounds as them, and it can also impact funding via the lower achievement gaps that exist in integrated schools as well as the nature of school funding formulas based on property taxes.
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