A new report from The Century Foundation shows persistent school segregation in cities across the United States.
U.S. Department of Education data shows that today the nation’s K-12 schools are 48 percent White, 27 percent Hispanic, 15 percent Black, 6 percent Asian, 1 percent American Indian, and 4 percent multiracial. But The Century Foundation study finds that the de facto separation of students by race continues to be commonplace. As of the 2018–19 school year, one in six public school students attended schools where over 90 percent of their peers had their same racial background.
The report also notes that a contributing factor to persistent racial segregation is that “American schools today are also highly segregated by economic status. Racial redlining of neighborhoods has been replaced with exclusionary zoning policies that keep low-income families out of certain communities. Housing markets are heavily impacted by school district boundaries and attendance zones. And school choice policies create an uneven playing field for families of different socioeconomic means trying to access different schools.”
The study uses a variance ratio segregation index to rank school districts on the degree of racial segregation. If the segregation index was 0, every school would have the same racial composition — there would be no difference, for example, in the percentage of Black students in the average White student’s school versus in the average Black student’s school. If segregation were 1, it would mean both groups were totally isolated — all White students and Black students would be enrolled in completely separate schools.
The results showed that for Black and White students, the Milwaukee school district was the most racially segregated with a score of .73. Detroit, Chicago, and Newark, New Jersey all had scores of .70 or higher. New York, Cleveland, Beaumont, Texas, and Gary Indiana all had scores of .65 or higher.