The nation’s public schools have experienced dramatic resegregation over the past two decades, a trend that is “systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities” for minority students, according to a new report released by the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles. In its latest in a series of reports analyzing segregation trends in public schools, the organization used federal data from the 2009-10 school year in making comparisons with previous trends.
Since the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Oklahoma City v. Dowell made it easier for districts and courts to dismantle federal court desegregation orders, schools, particularly in the South, have experienced significant resegregation, says the report. Elsewhere, increasing racial and ethnic diversity has led to segregation of schools. In 1970, nearly four out of every five students across the nation were white, but by 2009, just over half were white.
“In spite of declining residential segregation for black families and large-scale movement to the suburbs in most parts of the country, school segregation remains very high for black students,” the report says. “It is also double segregation by both race and poverty.”
In the early 1990s, Latino and black students, on average, attended a school where roughly a third of students were considered low-income. Now, those students attend schools where low-income students account for nearly two-thirds of their classmates—nearly double the level, on average, of schools attended by white or Asian students, according to the study.
Additionally, the rapidly growing Latino population has seen increasing segregation of students recently, particularly in the West. Latino enrollment in public schools has gone up from one-twentieth of U.S. students in 1970 to one-fourth in 2009. In the West, the share of Latino students in such settings has increased almost fourfold, the report says, from 12 percent in 1968 to 43 percent in 2009.
A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2012 edition of Education Week