Making Sense of School Segregation (or Trying to)

 //  May 4, 2018

Making Sense of School Segregation (or Trying to)

I've run across a few interesting stories about school segregation in the last few weeks. The three articles below look at the national, the local (New York City) and the historical. 

There Are Wild Swings in School Desegregation Data. The Feds Can't Explain Why (Education Week: Andrew Ujifusa and Alex Harwin)

School districts self-report orders or plans to desegregate, but the numbers of districts doing so have fluctuated wildly over the last several years. 

Here are the numbers:

  • 2011-12 school year: 1,200+ districts reported a desegregation order or plan
  • 2013-14 year: only 171 districts reported orders or plans
  • 2015-16 year: 334 districts reported orders or plans

Experts are struggling to make sense of these disparities, which some have attributed to shifting definitions of segregation order/plans. 

Why Are New York’s Schools Segregated? It’s Not as Simple as Housing (The New York Times: Elizabeth A. Harris and Josh Katz)

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio attributes (as do many others) school segretation in the city to housing segregation, which he also claims cannot be fixed. This New York Times article looks at how patterns of families sending children to schools outside their zones adds nuance to this complex issue. ("The schools they pick, the study found, tend to share two main features: They had fewer poor students than the zoned schools the families were leaving, and they had higher test scores.")

Study: Racial segregation remains constant over 15-year period (Education Dive: Roger Riddell)

This study also suggests that housing segregation is not the sole factor in school segregation. "Integration efforts from the '70s and '80s have waned as more recent court decisions permitted a scaling back of oversight for many districts, resulting in some cases in resegregation."