NYC Schools More Segregated Than Southern States

The map above shows the dramatic separation of the races in NYC schools. (Daniel Hertz)

While New York is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse states in the U.S., its public schools are the most racially segregated in the nation according to a report released by a California-based research group in late March.
      “New York state has consistently been one of the most segregated states in the nation — no Southern state comes close to New York,” said Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles and an author of the report released March 26.
      The report, which used enrollment figures from 1989 to 2010 from the state and city Departments of Education statistics, noted that a high degree of black and Latino students have very few or no white classmates at all.
      The report showed that even though the state’s minority student population has increased, the number of low-income students in those minority-majority public schools also increased, making the schools “severely segregated” in regards to race and class.
      New York City, which has the largest school system in the U.S., has 60 percent of the state’s black public school students go to schools in the five boroughs, alongside two-thirds of the state’s Asian and Latino students, but only 10 percent of New York state’s white students, the report said. Figures further show that 19 of 32 school districts had 10 percent or fewer white students.
      The public school system across the city is approximately 85 percent nonwhite, which is down from 25 percent in 1989-90. It added that the number of Latino students has increased significantly, from 29 percent to 40 percent, while the Asian student population jumped from nearly 9 percent to 15 percent.
      The report said that black and Latino students who attended segregated schools tend to perform worse than kids who attended schools that are more racially and socioeconomically diverse.
      Findings show that New York City’s charter schools have substantial segregation figures, with less than 1 percent white enrollment at 73 percent of all its charters. Many of these “intensely segregated” charters are located in districts of East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem and the South Bronx, the report said.
      “To create a whole new system that’s even worse than what you’ve got really takes some effort,” said Orfield.
      “Surprised? We are not. We’ve known it,” the New York City Parents Union wrote in a press release responding to the report. “It has been 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education changed America, yet New York City – the most diverse city in America — has the most segregated public schools. It is time to put all students first, to end “zip code education” in this City for district schools and for charter schools, and it is time to implement enrollment diversity goals for each and every school.”
      “We must end education apartheid in New York City. The de Blasio Mayoralty has inherited this mess. We now need a plan to clean it up,” said the report.       At a recent “Integration Matters” speaker series at Park Slope Collegiate in Brooklyn, Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at New York University and a former member of the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees argued that the city has to create an education system that serves everyone, equally.
      “When we talk about integration, we have to ask ourselves, what’s in it for white people?” Noguera asked. “And that’s what most people ignore and often don’t talk about. We have to make it comfortable for them to attend integrated schools because we’re getting more segregated than ever.”

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