What is the state of segregation in schools?

An Arkansas district could be divided by race. Meanwhile affluent areas are leaving majority-minority districts  
By: | October 28, 2019
In what could be perceived as a form of school segregation, the state of Arkansas could return some of the schools it previously took from Little Rock School District but plans on keeping schools that have high minority populations, a move that has alarmed school desegregation activists. gettyimages.com: AnnaStills

The state of Arkansas plans to divide Little Rock School District, which could be a form of school segregation. The state board of education, which assumed control of the district’s schools five years ago, could return some of the schools back to Little Rock but will keep the “failing” schools, which all have high minority populations, reported The Atlantic.

The number of students attending schools where at least 90 percent are nonwhite has more than tripled since 1988, according to a 2019 report.

Additionally, between 2000 and 2017, 47 predominantly white and relatively affluent areas in 13 U.S. counties have split from school districts that are majority-minority and have greater poverty, the National Education Policy Center reported. Seven of these counties are in the south.

From DA: Gifted and talented strategies to maintain school desegregation

In response, Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently pledged to encourage states to use a portion of their federal funds to crack down on wealthier, whiter communities that try to hoard resources and break away from more diverse districts, reported The New York Times.

But in Louisiana, Avoyelles Parish School System recently had a decadeslong school desegregation order lifted for improving entrenched inequities—an order that the system tried to lift in 2008, but failed, according to The Hechinger Report. The court system lifted the ban, in part, because the district’s charter school increased its black student enrollment and two high schools are well-integrated.

In Massachusetts, districts receive $5,000 for each student that is bused from Boston or Springfield to their system, The Buffalo News reported in a story on a recent desegregation and school funding forum in New York.

Students of color have experienced academic gains from the program, which has well over 10,000 students on the waiting list.

Prevent school segregation in gifted and talented programs

In Illinois, white students have been leaving the city of Springfield’s District 186 to seven suburban school systems. So the district opened two selective schools for gifted students that have drawn more white students than minorities, reported the IllinoisTimes. 

To expand access to gifted and talented programs, these schools will need to diversify and retain those students by ensuring their experiences are positive, Donna Y. Ford, professor of education and human development at Vanderbilt University, told District Administration.

“I look at recruitment as desegregation, and I look at retention as integration,” Ford said. Once enrolled in gifted programs, students need not just advanced instruction, but also “the quality, the supports, the resources, the understanding, the compassion, the equity,” Ford added. 

Resources: School desegregation resources for educators

Related: Educators want students to understand school segregation had impacts beyond the South

Related: More small districts breaking away from larger systems