Hispanic students have become more segregated in suburban public schools over the last decade, even while blacks and Asians have become slightly less isolated, according to a new study.
The Pew Hispanic Center found that the nation’s suburbs added 3.4 million students from 1993 to 2007, representing two-thirds of the growth in public school enrollment. Virtually all the suburban growth—99 percent—came from the addition of Hispanic, black, and Asian students.
But while black and Asian students saw small gains in integration, Hispanic students were increasingly clustered at the same suburban schools. The study found their segregation was particularly evident not only in counties around Chicago, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and in Prince George’s County, Md., where their population is small compared with blacks’ and whites’, but also in areas with larger Hispanic concentrations, such as the Los Angeles, Miami, and San Diego metropolitan areas.
The researchers said the findings challenge the conventional assumption that growing minority populations will create an instant “melting pot” in suburban and other districts and raise questions about whether local school boards need to actively promote integration
The report says one factor in the growth of minority students in suburban areas has been the growing popularity of charter schools, some of which have special ethnic themes or offer bilingual courses that attract minority students.
A version of this article appeared in the April 08, 2009 edition of Education Week