"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 28, 2012

Resegregation Escalates

From the Civil Rights Project at UCLA:

--Los Angeles--In the latest of its widely-cited reports analyzing segregation trends in the nation’s public schools, and the first since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the Civil Rights Project today released three new studies showing persistent and serious increases in segregation by race and poverty, with very dramatic results in the South and West, the nation’s two largest regions where students of color now comprise the majority of public school enrollment. Nationally, the average black or Latino student now attends school with a substantial majority of children in poverty, double the level in schools of whites and Asians.

This new research by the Civil Rights Project includes an extensive report on national trends, “E Pluribus… Separation: Deepening Double Segregation for More Students,” as well as two smaller regional reports, “The Western States: Profound Diversity but Severe Segregation for Latino Students,” and “Southern Slippage: Growing School Segregation in the Most Desegregated Region of the Country.”

Together they show segregation is substantially increasing across the country for Latino students, who attend more intensely segregated and impoverished schools than they have for generations. The segregation increases for Latinos are most dramatic in the West.

In spite of declining residential segregation for black families, and their large-scale movement to the suburbs in most parts of the country, school segregation for black students remains very high and is increasing most severely in the South, which led the nation in school integration after the l960s desegregation struggles took effect.

For decades, the Civil Rights Project has monitored the success of American schools in reaching the goals of integrating schools and equalizing opportunity in a changing society. Segregation is directly linked to severe problems, such as high dropout rates, lack of experienced teachers, and fewer resources. E Pluribus… Separationsummarizes the most rigorous research to date showing that segregated schools are systematically linked to these and other unequal educational opportunities. 

Using data from the National Center on Education Statistics, the researchers explore enrollment shifts and segregation trends playing out nationally, as well as in regions, states and metropolitan areas. The reports contain data on all states and the nation's 25 largest metropolitan regions, making it possible for citizens and local officials to compare patterns in their areas to national and regional trends.

In the reports, the authors underscore the fact that simply sitting next to a white student does not guarantee better educational outcomes for students of color. Instead, the resources including expert and experienced teachers and advanced courses that are consistently linked to predominately white and/or wealthy schools help foster real and serious educational advantages over minority segregated settings.

The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, has taken no significant action to increase school integration or to help stabilize diverse schools undergoing racial change due to changes in the housing market. Small positive steps in civil rights enforcement by the current administration have, however, been undermined by the strong pressure it used to expand charter schools, the most segregated sector of schools for African American students. 

Though segregation is powerfully related to many dimensions of unequal education, neither political party has discussed it in the current presidential race.  

“These trends threaten the nation’s success as a multiracial society,” commented Professor Gary Orfield, Civil Rights Project co-director.  “We are disappointed to have heard nothing in the campaign about this issue from neither President Obama, who is the product of excellent integrated schools and colleges, nor from Governor Romney, whose father gave up his job in the Nixon Cabinet because of his fight for fair housing, which directly impacts school make-up.”

E Pluribus… Separation suggests a number of ways to reverse the trends toward deepening resegregation without implementing mandatory busing. These recommendations include: giving priority in competing for funds to pro-integration policies; changing the operation of choice plans and charter policies so that they foster rather than undermine integration; supporting diverse communities facing resegregation with housing and education policies; helping communities undergoing racial change to create voluntary desegregation plans, and training for administrators and teachers’ to achieve successful and lasting integration.

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