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Schools More Separate says Harvard Study

Blacks, Hispanics being resegregated, study says

By Andrew Mollison, Palm Beach Post Washington Bureau

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

WASHINGTON -- The percentage of black and Latino students attending predominantly minority schools continues to grow, the Civil Rights Project reported Tuesday.

"We're a decade into serious resegregation for African-American and Hispanic students," said Gary Orfield, co-director of the Harvard-based research group.

The group's study, "Schools More Separate: Consequences of a Decade of Resegregation," analyzed enrollment patterns in public elementary schools from 1968 through the 1998-99 school year.

The findings included:

ΠThe percentage of black students attending schools in which most students were minorities fell from 77 percent in 1968-69 to 63 percent in 1986-87, but then rose gradually, reaching 70 percent in 1998-99.

ΠThe percentage of Latino students attending schools in which most students were minorities has risen steadily from 55 percent in 1968-69 to 71.5 percent in 1986-87 and 75.6 percent in 1998-99.

ΠBy the end of that period, more than one-third of black and Latino students were at schools in which 90 percent or more of the students were non-whites.

White students were more racially isolated in 1998-99 than those of other backgrounds.

Nationwide, whites attended schools in which 19 percent of the students were of another race. The percentage for other races was 45 percent for blacks, 47 percent for Latinos, 69 percent for Indians and 78 percent for Asians.

One example of the isolation of white students from other races was found in the District of Columbia public schools, where only 4 percent of the students are non-Hispanic whites, but most of them attend schools in which half the students are white.

The report cited three main causes of the trends:

ΠDemographic changes. In the three decades between 1968 and 1998, the number of black and Latino students rose by 5.8 million, while the number of white students fell by 5.6 million.

ΠCourt decisions. A series of rulings by the Supreme Court between 1974 and 1995, and by lower-level federal courts since, have weakened or terminated many court-ordered or court-protected desegregation plans.

ΠPolicy. Metropolitan areas that divide power among many school districts and governments have failed to develop jurisdiction-crossing policies that would defend integrated residential neighborhoods and schools.

"Segregation is following the black and Latino families who are moving out of the central cities, and it is threatening the suburban dream of upward mobility for non-white families," Orfield said.

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