Report: Segregation in U.S. Schools is Increasing

By Matthew Bigg
Reuters
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; 8:42 PM

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Public schools in the United States are becoming more racially segregated and the trend is likely to accelerate because of a Supreme Court decision in June, according to report published Wednesday.

The rise in segregation threatens the quality of education received by non-white students, who now make up 43 percent of the total U.S. student body, said the report by the Civil Rights Project of the University of California in Los Angeles.

Many segregated schools struggle to attract highly qualified teachers and administrators, do not prepare students well for college and fail to graduate more than half their students.

In its June ruling the Supreme Court forbade most existing voluntary local efforts to integrate schools in a decision favored by the Bush administration despite warnings from academics that it would compound educational inequality.

"It is about as dramatic a reversal in the stance of the federal courts as one could imagine," said Gary Orfield, a UCLA professor and a co-author of the report.

"The federal courts are clearly pushing us backward segregation with the encouragement of the Justice Department of President George W. Bush," he said in an interview.

The United States risks becoming a nation in which a new majority of non-white young people will attend "separate and inferior" schools, the report said.

"Resegregation ... is continuing to grow in all parts of the country for both African Americans and Latinos and is accelerating the most rapidly in the only region that had been highly desegregated -- the South," it said.

The trend damages the prospects for non-white students and will likely have a negative effect on the U.S. economy, according to the report by one of the leading U.S. research centers on issues of civil rights and racial inequality.

Part of the reason for the resegregation is the rapidly expanding number of black and Latino children and a corresponding fall in the number of white children, it said.

Contrary to popular belief, the surge in the number of minority children in public schools was not mainly caused by a flight of white students into private schools.

Instead, it said, the post-"baby boom" generation of white Americans are having smaller family sizes.


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