Today marks the 62nd anniversary of one of the Supreme Courtâ€™s most far-reaching decisions in its implications, but sadly ineffectual in its implementation: Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down the lawful racial segregation of schools.
The promise of Brown is yet to be fulfilled; in fact, we are moving backwards as a country. The Departments of Education and Justice asked the Government Accountability Office to study changes in student racial isolation or integration over time.
Today, the GAO released its report, K-12 Education: Better Use of Information Could Help Agencies Identify Disparities and Address Racial Discrimination. Iâ€™m a little suspicious, though. Donâ€™t we already have reams of information, documented instances of disparity in every corner of the country, disparities of teacher quality, curriculum, and school facilities? Iâ€™m not convinced that more information is what we need.
The report itself provides abundant information. The GAO found plenty of evidence of unequal treatment and unequal results:
- Racial and socioeconomic isolation in K-12 public schools increased from 9% to 16%.
- 61% of all high poverty schools are 75% students of color. Hispanic students make up the largest segment of this group; black students are 16%.
- The poverty rate of black and Hispanic students is two to three times higher than that of white students.
- The growth in racial and socioeconomic isolation was concentrated in schools where 75% to 100% of the students were black or Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
- While the concentration of poor black and Hispanic students in traditional public school decreased from 94% to 81% between the 2000â€“2001 and the 2013â€“2014 school years, their presence increased in charter schoolsÂ from 3% to 13%Â and in magnet schoolsÂ from 3% to 5%,Â during that same time period.
- Hispanic students tend to be triply segregated: by race or ethnicity, economics, and language.
The GAO report includes disturbing impacts:
- Less than half of these schools offered AP math courses, compared to the availability of such courses in almost two-thirds of schools that are more racially and socioeconomically diverse.
- Among all schools, low-income and minority students were far less likely to enroll in these more rigorous courses.
- GAO also found that, despite the “high-poverty” majority black and Hispanic school students comprising only 12% of all K-12 public school students, they accounted for 22% of all students with more than one out-of-school suspension.
Concentrated poverty, racial isolation, and low-resourced schools all work against the human flourishing of low income students. High-resourced, diverse schools that set high expectations benefit all students, including low income students of color.