Opinion
Education Opinion

Growing Segregation in School Districts

By Walt Gardner — December 24, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A slowly growing trend toward resegregation of schools threatens to exacerbate the academic achievement gap. Although resegregation was in the news most recently in Missouri, it is going on elsewhere as well (“How School Segregation Divides Ferguson - and the United States,” The New York Times, Dec. 21).

Consider the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California (“Should wealthy towns be able to secede from higher-poverty, higher-minority schools districts?” The Hechinger Report, Nov. 3). Residents of Malibu, which is overwhelmingly white, with a median household income of $135,530, are seeking to form their own school district. It’s hard to know how much is due to a desire for more autonomy and how much is due to a desire to isolate themselves from Santa Monica, which is racially diverse, with a median household income of $72,271.

What is clear is that parents in Malibu are angry and frustrated after their efforts to establish a K-12 foreign-language program and design an International Baccalaureate track for the city’s four schools were rebuffed by the school board, whose seven members all live in Santa Monica.

A similar secessionist movement is taking place in Gardendale, Alabama, a small middle-class town outside Birmingham (“How a ‘New Secessionist’ Movement Is Threatening to Worsen School Segregation and Widen Inequalities,” The Nation, May 15). Even though it meant raising taxes on themselves to underwrite the move, residents willingly did so.

Mirroring the trend, Baton Rouge, Louisiana residents are attempting to form an entirely new city for the sole purpose of separating itself from the East Baton Rouge Parish Schools, which are mostly populated by black and economically disadvantaged students.

To date, however, the most notable example was in Tennessee, where the overwhelmingly black Memphis school district in 2011 voted to dissolve itself in order to merge into the majority-white Shelby County schools. The consolidation, the largest in American history, was upheld in March by a federal judge after the suburban towns in the county tried to secede from the merged district (“Judge’s ruling means municipal schools can move forward in Shelby County,” The Commercial Appeal, Mar. 10).

I expect to see further attempts down the line, as parents view integrating schools as a threat to education quality. If these efforts are legally blocked, parents will pull their children out of public schools and enroll them in private and religious schools.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)