Equity & Diversity

New York State’s Schools Are Nation’s Most Segregated, Report Contends

By Lesli A. Maxwell — March 26, 2014 1 min read
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New York State is home to the nation’s most segregated public schools, with the share of black students who attend “intensely segregated” schools—those where fewer than 10 percent of students are white—increasing steadily since the late 1980s, according to a new study from the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California Los Angeles.

In 2010, the study found, more than half of New York state’s black and Latino students were in schools with a white enrollment that was less than 10 percent. The study also found segregation by income: While nearly 50 percent of New York’s students came from low-income families in 2010, the typical white student attended a school where fewer than 30 percent of students were poor. By comparison, the typical black and Latino student went to a school where nearly 70 percent of their classmates were from low-income households.

The findings on New York state, the study’s authors said, are heavily affected by the patterns of segregation in the 1.1 million-student New York City system, the nation’s largest. Across the city’s 32 community school districts, 19 of them had white-student enrollments of 10 percent or less.

Written by John Kucsera and Gary Orfield, the report draws on segregation research since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and uses data from the 1989-90, 1999-2000, and 2010-11 Common Core of Data from the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s the fifth report in a series that the Civil Rights Project is doing on school segregation patterns in communities along the East Coast.

The report also delves into patterns of segregation in several other communities around the state: Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

The authors attribute New York’s segregation to a number of factors, including persistent residential segregation, and the abandonment of earlier efforts by individual districts to desegregate schools.

Kucsera and Orfield are also in the midst of a debate with fellow academics over whether the level of school segregation has changed since the early 1970s, when much of the desegregation activity following the Brown decision began tapering off.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.