If you thought the educational system in the Empire State, was all post-racial and desegregated, think again. According to a report by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles, which looked at enrollment trend data from 1989 to 2010, New York state has the most segregated public schools in the nation, with many black and Latino students attending schools with virtually no white classmates. And New York City is the biggest culprit in segregation.

From The Associated Press:

In New York City, the largest school system in the U.S. with 1.1 million pupils, the study notes that many of the charter schools created over the last dozen years are among the least diverse of all, with less than 1 percent white enrollment at 73 percent of charter schools.

“To create a whole new system that’s even worse than what you’ve got really takes some effort,” said Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project and an author of the report.

The issue of charter schools is turning political in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking a stand to support existing public schools over charter schools.

Orfield and his fellow researchers say segregation has the effect of concentrating black and Latino students in schools with high ratios of poor students compared with the statewide average. Black and Latino students who attend schools that are integrated by race and income level perform significantly better than their peers in segregated schools, the authors note.

The study suggests that New York’s segregation is largely due to housing patterns, because housing and school segregation are correlated, but that it could be mitigated through policies intended to promote diversity.

“In the 30 years I have been researching schools, New York state has consistently been one of the most segregated states in the nation – no Southern state comes close to New York,” Orfield said.

Other states with highly segregated schools include Illinois, Michigan and California, according to the Civil Rights Project.

“For New York to have a favorable multiracial future both socially and economically, it is absolutely urgent that its leaders and citizens understand both the values of diversity and the harms of inequality,” the study’s authors say.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Education didn’t address the report, but said, “We believe in diverse classrooms in which students interact and grow through personal relationships with those of different backgrounds.”  I guess those backgrounds don’t include Asian or White students. I’m quite sure Black and Latino students live and breath together every day.

State Education Commissioner John King called the findings troubling and added, “The department has supported over the years various initiatives aimed at improving school integration and school socioeconomic integration, but there’s clearly a lot of work that needs to be done – not just in New York but around the country.”


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