A re­port

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY MO­RIAH BALINGIT

showed ev­i­dence that Flor­ida’s schools are re­seg­re­gat­ing, a trend seen across the coun­try.

In the years af­ter the Supreme Court’s land­mark 1954 de­ci­sion in Brown v. Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, many South­ern states re­volted against school de­seg­re­ga­tion or­ders. Not Flor­ida. There, lead­ers ac­cepted the or­ders.

Flor­ida wit­nessed more dra­matic in­te­gra­tion than other states, in part be­cause de­seg­re­ga­tion was al­lowed — and then em­braced — by LeRoy Collins, who was Flor­ida’s gover­nor in the late 1950s. The state’s school sys­tems are also or­ga­nized by county — en­com­pass­ing cities and their whiter, more af­flu­ent sub­urbs — mak­ing it eas­ier to cre­ate de­mo­graph­i­cally bal­anced schools.

But there is grow­ing ev­i­dence that the schools in the na­tion’s third-most-pop­u­lous state are re­seg­re­gat­ing, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased last month by the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Los An­ge­les’s Civil Rights Project.

The trend in Flor­ida mir­rors what is hap­pen­ing in the rest of the na­tion. A Govern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice re­port pub­lished last year found that the na­tion’s schools are re­seg­re­gat­ing, with the share of schools that are ma­jor­ity black and Latino grow­ing.

“What’s hap­pen­ing is very threat­en­ing to ed­u­ca­tional eq­uity in the United States,” said Gary Or­field, a scholar with the Civil Rights Project. Or­field and re­searcher Jongyeon Ee coau­thored the re­port for the LeRoy Collins In­sti­tute at Flor­ida State Univer­sity.

The re­port, called “Pat­terns of Re­seg­re­ga­tion in Flor­ida’s Schools,” con­cludes that schools have grown more seg­re­gated since the 1990s, when the Supreme Court em­pow­ered fed­eral district judges to undo de­seg­re­ga­tion and bus­ing or­ders in their com­mu­ni­ties. The or­ders have been lifted in some of Flor­ida’s largest school dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Mi­ami-Dade, Broward, Hills­bor­ough and Palm Beach coun­ties.

This, com­bined with an in­flux of His­panic stu­dents in some com­mu­ni­ties, has led to schools that are racially and eco­nom­i­cally iso­lated. The re­search found that the per­cent­age of schools that were “in­tensely seg­re­gated” — mean­ing more than 90 per­cent of stu­dents were non­white — dou­bled between 1994 and 2014. The per­cent­age of schools where more than 99 per­cent of stu­dents were non­white also grew, from 2.1 per­cent of schools to 3.7 per­cent.

There is also grow­ing eco­nomic seg­re­ga­tion. Nearly 90 per­cent of stu­dents who at­tend schools that are more than 99 per­cent black or His­panic are from low-in­come fam­i­lies. The typ­i­cal black or His­panic stu­dent in Flor­ida at­tends a school where more than 60 per­cent of the other stu­dents are from low­in­come fam­i­lies. The typ­i­cal white or Asian stu­dent at­tends a school where fewer than half of the other stu­dents are poor.

“This is not just a nu­mer­i­cal gap, but a gap in school re­sources, ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity, aca­demic achieve­ment, and the en­vi­ron­ment around the school,” the au­thors wrote in the re­port.

“We have a sys­tem that very clearly puts priv­i­leged kids in stronger schools and con­fines stu­dents of color to high-poverty schools,” Or­field said.

Or­field said the trend can­not be ex­plained by de­mo­graphic changes alone, though the share of His­panic stu­dents in the state dou­bled between 1994 and 2014. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, this in­flux was con­cen­trated in cer­tain schools and com­mu­ni­ties.

The re­sult: de­clin­ing aca­demic per­for­mance in seg­re­gated schools, which tend to have more poverty and less-ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers and miss out on a va­ri­ety of re­sources avail­able to whiter, more af­flu­ent schools. A 2015 Tampa Bay Times in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that af­ter the Pinel­las County School Board ended de­seg­re­ga­tion, some schools grew over­whelm­ingly poor and black. Teacher turnover in­creased and test scores plum­meted, mak­ing the schools some of the worst in the state.

Or­field said there are ways to re­verse the trend — in­clud­ing cre­at­ing re­gional mag­net pro­grams that draw from a di­verse set of neigh­bor­hoods and com­mu­ni­ties and pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion fund­ing for stu­dents who want to at­tend schools out­side their com­mu­ni­ties.

“De­seg­re­ga­tion can’t deal with all the problems . . . but it can deal with some of them,” Or­field said, “and noth­ing has been done.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.