A full 15 percent of African American students and 14 percent of Latino students are attending America's "apartheid" schools, which have student bodies that are less than 1 percent white, according to a new study by the Civil Rights Project published on Wednesday.
Additionally, the typical African American or Latino student attends school with twice the share of low-income students as their white or Asian peers. These segregation factors are most exacerbated in California, Texas and New York, "states that have been profoundly altered by immigration trends over the last half century."
"We underscore the fact that simply sitting next to a white student does not guarantee better educational outcomes for students of color," the report said. "Instead, the resources that are consistently linked to predominately white and/or wealthy schools help foster real and serious educational advantages over minority segregated settings."
"Our political and educational leaders, who have passively accepted deepening school segregation, need to find some of the same courage that transformed our society in the mid-twentieth century," the report continued.
Indeed, the Obama administration has been criticized for not being more agressive about addressing school segregation. In a blog post on Marin Luther King Jr. day last year on a North Carolina school's efforts to dismantle an integration program, Dana Goldstein wrote, "The problem is that [Education Secretary] Arne Duncan's words of support for the Wake County integration plan have never been backed up by Obama administration policy. Neither of the Department of Education's two big school reform grant programs--Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation--provide any funding at all for districts that wish to pursue magnet school-driven integration as a reform tool. And make no mistake--integration is one of the most powerful school reform tools in the kit."
The Civil Rights Project said in the report, "Small positive steps in civil rights enforcement have been undermined by the Obama Administration’s strong pressure on states to expand charter schools - the most segregated sector of schools for black students."
Todd Ziebarth, vice president of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, told the New York Times on Wednesday that he supported more funding to bus more minority students to charter schools, but that "if a school is relatively homogeneous but is performing really well, we should be celebrating that school, not denigrating it."
Charter school students make up about 5 percent of all K-12 students as of the 2009-2010 school year.
School integration reached a high point in the late 1980s, when schools made great strides toward closing the racial achievement gap. But major roadblocks to achieving racial integration have been put in place since then. A 1991 Supreme Court decision in Board of Education of Oklahoma City Public Schools v. Robert L. Dowell allowed schools to be released from court monitoring on desegregation so long as the school made a "good faith effort." Then in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court took another big step in dismantling desegregation, in a 5-4 decision that found schools' voluntary desegregation plans in Seattle and Kentucky unconstitutional.
[African American students in a classroom via Shutterstock]