Government Report: School ‘Segregation’ Increasing as Country Becomes Less White

By Blake Neff Published on May 18, 2016

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report declaring American schools are more racially and economically segregated, as more and more schools become almost entirely poor and non-white.

The report, released 64 years to the day after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, found that in the 2013-14 school year, 16 percent of public schools had a population that was both over 75 percent low-income and over 75 percent black or Hispanic. That’s a big increase from the 2000-01 school year, when only nine percent of public schools had these demographics.

The high number of these “isolated” schools is problematic, the GAO found, because such schools perform much worse academically and tend to have less substantial course offerings. Low-income, non-white schools offered far fewer college preparatory classes in math and science, for instance, and they were also much more likely to suspend or expel students.

The report may herald a surge in federal intervention intended to increase racial parity in U.S. schools. The report notes that the Department of Justice could potentially expedite its investigation of civil rights complaints, with an eye towards using the courts to force greater racial balancing in U.S. schools. The department was defensive, though, quickly releasing a response saying it already “carefully monitors” existing cases of potentially illegal segregation.

Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan and one of those who requested the GAO report, said the report was a sign America is reestablishing an “educational apartheid” similar to that seen prior to Brown.

The report only briefly mentions a critical reason for the surging number of heavily non-white schools: The rapid rise in the percentage of non-white students in the United States. White students in 1975 were still an overwhelming majority in U.S. schools and the largest non-white group was blacks, who were 14 percent of students. Today, Hispanics are 25 percent of the student population and blacks are 16 percent. Already, a majority of U.S. public school students are non-white.

The rise of minorities and decline of whites makes it unsurprising that more and more schools are heavily non-white, even if no segregationist policies are being implemented. This is especially the case because residential segregation remains the norm in American life, as Americans continue to choose to live among people like themselves in cities across the country.


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