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New study finds that re-segregation is growing in public schools across the country

A new report, conducted by The Civil Rights Project, found that U.S. schools are growing more segregated, even as the U.S. population grows more and more diverse.

New York, Illinois, Michigan, and California top the list for the most segregated states for African American students. According to the data, two-fifths of Black students attend a school that is less than 1 percent White. In Michigan, a third of Black students attend a school  that is less than 1 percent White. Researchers say this segregation is worse than the south before Brown v. Board of Education. The data also shows that southern states, like Arkansas and Tennessee, are growing more and more segregated. Latino students also face segregation, especially in western states like California and New Mexico where the percentage of Latino students in public schools is highest.

How does Washington state stack up? Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2009-2010 school year, researchers found that Washington has one of the highest percentages of Latino enrollment in public schools (16.8 percent). Of those students, 53.9 percent attend schools that are 50 to 100 percent minority. By comparison, Rhode Island has a Latino student population of 18 percent, and 74.1 percent of them attend schools that are between 50 to 100 percent. Oregon’s Latino student population is slightly larger than Washington at 20.4 percent. However,  only 39.8 of Oregon’s Latino public school students attend a school that is 50 to 100 percent minority.

Researchers point to the elimination of desegregation assistance under the Reagan administration for the increase in public school segregation. When it comes to the implications of segregation, the researchers write, “The new segregation that has grown out of that diversity is multiracial, affects many more districts, involves language and immigrant issues as well as isolation by race, ethnicity and poverty. It is also spreading. If one examines the testing and graduation statistics on the state department of education websites, the relationship between failure to meet state standards and this segregation is an obvious reality, although it is virtually invisible in policy discourse. Resegregated schools tend to have severe problems of educational performance but as far as this issue goes, most states have taken a pass.”

Read the full report here (pdf). Read the Education Week coverage here.

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