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Segregation in K-12 Schools Continues to Persist

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Segregation in schools was outlawed six decades ago, yet separation of students by race still exists in our schools today. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report outlining the segregation of black and Hispanic students at high poverty public schools nationwide.

The report found that over 20 million minority students are racially and socioeconomically isolated in schools. Three districts in the South, Northeast and West were examined as part of the study. Each took measures to increase both economic and racial diversity, yet were hindered by lack of involvement from parents and the community, as well as transportation issues.

Statistics show that during the 2013-2014 school year, 16 percent of schools had large concentrations of economically poor and black or Hispanic students. In 2000, this segment was only 9 percent of the nation's public schools. The student population at these schools were at minimum 75 percent black, Hispanic and poor.

The high poverty minority schools regularly offer less math and science course overall. Algebra, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics classes were all lacking in comparison to more affluent schools. Less than half of the poor, minority-heavy schools offered AP math courses.

Students attending high-poverty, minority concentrated schools accounted for 7 percent of U.S. ninth grade public school students, yet comprised 17 percent of students held back. Hispanic students were found to be the largest minority group, at 25 percent, with black students at 16 percent during the 2013-2014 school year. Poverty rates for both groups were two to three times higher than that of white students.

If nothing else, the GAO report is a call to action. Appropriate steps must be taken so that schools are able to reach and celebrate every type of student. If not addressed, resource disparities will continue to plague minority and lower income students.

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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 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.

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