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Study Finds Segregation Rising in the Northeast

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Washington--Although racial segregation of black students decreased dramatically in Southern schools during the 1970's, segregation in the Northeast region increased, according to a new study of desegregation trends commissioned by the Congress.

In the South in 1968, 80 percent of black students attended schools where more than half the student body consisted of minority students. By 1980, that percentage had decreased to 57 percent, mainly because of the federal government's efforts to reduce school segregation, the study said.

In contrast, the percentage of black students attending such schools in the Northeast increased from 66 percent to 79 percent during the same period, according to the data compiled by the Joint Center for Political Studies, a nonprofit research firm here.

Segregation of black students decreased slightly during the 12-year period in the West and Midwest, the study found.

The study, which was conducted at the request of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights and released at a committee hearing last week, also found increases in segregation of Hispanic stu-dents, particularly in the Midwest and West. Sixty-three percent of Hispanic students in the Western region attended predominantly minority schools in 1980, up from 42 percent in 1968.

Although wide disparities existed between regions, segregation of black students into predominantly minority schools decreased by 13 percent in the United States as a whole, according to the research. Segregation of Hispanic students in the U.S. increased by approximately the same percentage, however.

Gary Orfield, a professor of political science and education at the University of Chicago and a nationally recognized expert on school desegregation, analyzed the data for the study and presented his findings at the hearing.

'Most Segregated State'

He identified Illinois as the "most segregated state," with 68 percent of black students attending schools in which more than 90 percent of the student population is made up of minorities.

Other states that had large numbers of black students attending such schools included New York (56 percent), Michigan (51 percent), New Jersey (50 percent), Pennsylvania (49 percent), Missouri (44 percent), and California (41 percent).

"All of these industrial states lead all Southern states in segregation of black students," Mr. Orfield wrote. "The typical black student in Alabama was in a school with more than twice as high a proportion of white students as his counterpart in Illinois."

"Progress in the South," Mr. Orfield said last week, "is clearly related to mandatory requirements for desegregation enacted by the Congress and ordered by the federal courts. The change was powerful, dramatic, [and] fast, and it has lasted," he said.

"During a period of only four years, from 1968 to 1972, segregation in the South decreased by 25 percent," Mr. Orfield said. "This was the direct result of enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by the Johnson Administration and two extremely important decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court."

Mr. Orfield maintained that, conversely, "the Northeast has moved against this stream of change, increasing its already intense segregation and operating the nation's most segregated schools." Segregation in the Northeast will continue to increase, he said, as a result of the anti-busing policies of the Reagan Administration. "These policies are basically designed to assure the perpetuation of segregation in the North," he said.

High Concentrations

For Hispanic students, the study found that New York State operated the most segregated schools, with 57 percent of its Hispanic students attending schools where more than 90 percent of the student body consisted of minority students. Other states with high concentrations of Hispanic students in such schools included Texas (40 percent), New Jersey (35 percent), and Illinois (32 percent).

"There was no progress on integrating Latino students in public schools in the 70's.

"In fact, each region of the country has become more segregated for Hispanics as their numbers have rapidly grown in American society," Mr. Orfield said.

He predicted that the increase in segregated school settings for Hispanics would continue because "there has been no serious effort to provide integration for Hispanics, and their segregation is rapidly increasing."

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