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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  • The Other Jess

    Wow – New York beat Chicago as being the most segregated system? It’shard to be more segregated than Chicago – That is not an easy thing to do! LOL

    But still, why is it a problem if “many black and Latino students attend.. schools with virtually no white classmates”. So what? What counts is the quality of the education, not how many white people are around. i always think it’s so stupid that people assume that being around white people miraculously improves your educational opportunities.

    • nutmegprincess26

      Yes, I totally agree, we don’t need white students to be diverse.Is the diversity in black and latino communities not good enough? I went through the “segregated” nyc public school system and had classmates representing nigeria, ghana, grenada,haiti trinidad, barbados, puerto rico,brazil, peru and the dominican republic…

  • Eduardo

    “To create a whole new system that’s even worse than what you’ve got really takes some effort”. Probably because it was neither an accident nor the result of incompetence. In any case, White working class kids don’t have a guarantee that they’ll make it either (met them all during my time in public school). In my experience the two biggest problems are 1) the adults in the kids’ lives who day after day fail spectacularly at parenting and 2) an unfortunately technocratic system that doesn’t support teachers or education in general and weakens them constantly. I’m keeping it concise because this is quite a long topic…

  • SayWhat

    I grew up in Brooklyn NY and had less than 5 non-black classmates in any of my classes from JR High to high school. My friends and I were OK because we were always in honors classes and had teachers who were old school liberal teachers (black and non-black) who wanted to make a difference, but sadly, by the time I graduated from H.S., more than half were recruited to suburban white H.S.

    The reason why the lack of diversity is important is because the powers that be are only willing to invest in schools that have white kids. Read ‘savage inequalities by jonathan kozol’, although the book is not recent, every word in there is true today.
    I would never live in a all white neighborhood, the perks are not worth the headache, but unless your kid goes to a black high functioning school like Montessori (Montessori is a quaker school, but they have a few with predominately black staff/pupils), then chances are your kid may be getting sub-par education in the form of teachers, material and courses offered. But given that NY is the most cut throat city in the US (it’s not enough just to be white in NY, it doesn’t hurt, but you need money too) this study doesn’t surprise me.

  • Lisss

    By the way people are always associating racism to the southern states, i would have thought the title would have gone to Mississippi or Florida.

  • African Woman

    I’m from Atlanta Ga and I’m kind of shocked.