New Report Cites ‘Third Generation’ of Segregation

June 07, 1989 2 min read

Washington--School segregation based on race, sex, and national origin “is alive and as ugly as ever,” but often takes more subtle forms than the one-race schools of the past, according to a new report by the directors of the 10 federally funded desegregation-assistance centers.

The authors argue that a “third generation” of segregation has evolved in recent years.The situation, they say, is characterized by problems such as “teachers’ limited expectations for minority children, the cultural bias of many instructional methods, the persistence of sex stereotyping and bias, and ability grouping that isolates students on the basis of race, national origin, or sex.”

The emerging problems are complicated, the report says, by the persistence of the first-generation problem of the physical separation of students into unequal schools, and by such second-generation problems as segregation within schools by classrooms.

The report is the first joint effort by the desegregation-assistance centers, which were created under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Reagan Administration had recommended several times that the centers be eliminated, but the Congress has continued to appropriate slightly more than $8 million annually for their operation.

In 1987, the Administration consolidated what was then 40 separate centers into the 10 existing centers, which are operated by private organizations under contract with the federal government.

The new report, “Resegregation of Public Schools, The Third Generation,” desribes the centers as the “basic infrastrucure” of the federal desegregation efforts. It says their work is both “essential” and “insufficient.”

The centers have little power to influence the increasing concentration of minority students in racially isolated schools, particularly in inner cities, the report says.

“That will only occur when, and if, a new, forceful national desegregation initiative is put in place,” it says.

The report was released here last week at a breakfast hosted by Repre8sentative Major D. Owens, the New York Democrat who chairs the House Subcommittee on Select Education.

The report was not intended as a defense of the centers against their critics or as a plea for more funding, said E. Joseph Schneider, associate executive director of the Southwest Regional Laboratory in Los Alamitos, Calif., which operates the Southwest Center for Educational Equity.

Instead, it was issued because “it is the sense of the desegregation centers that the general public and policymakers have forgotten about the fact that we’re still facing segregated schools in this country,’' he said.

The report is based partly on observations by the centers’ staff members and also draws heavily from recent research on desegregation.

Copies of the report are available at no cost from any of the 10 regional desegregation assistance centers, or by writing the Center for National Origin, Race, and Sex Equity, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 101 S.W. Main St., Suite 500, Portland, Ore. 97204.--ws

A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 1989 edition of Education Week as New Report Cites ‘Third Generation’ of Segregation