A new study by Jeremy Fiel, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Wisconsin, finds that American children are more segregated in schools today than they were 20 years ago. But the study, published in the American Sociological Review, finds that the segregation is not due to any intentional process to separate the races but rather due to the changing demographics of the nation’s public school systems and the residential segregation that persists in America.
Fiel says that by comparing school enrollment data to population statistics in neighborhoods surrounding the schools, he found that “the exposure of Blacks and Hispanics to Whites was actually higher than would be expected.” He notes that since busing and other methods to reduce racial segregation have gone out of favor, segregation has increased for the simple reason that the population of particular school districts are largely segregated by race. “Efforts to implement district-level desegregation would have minimal impact on the problem that people want to address, the separation of White and minority students.”
Fiel concludes, “We need to think more creatively, to find different ways to address the problem of larger-scale segregation or improve schools in spite of the segregation that exists.”