Fifty years after the March on Washington for civil rights, we no longer see state officials blocking the schoolhouse door to maintain segregation in American classrooms. However, a new study by University of Texas researchers shows that de-facto school segregation not just by race and ethnicity but also by class and language nonetheless prevails in public education today.
Education-policy professors Julian Vasquez Heilig and Jennifer Jellison Holme marshal data from the Texas Education Agency to demonstrate the pattern:
· 51 percent of Texas schools are majority African American and Latino combined.
· 46 percent of urban schools are designated as “intensely segregated,” which means that 90 percent or more of the students are African American and Latino combined.
· 47 percent of suburban Texas schools are now majority African American and Latino.
· 20 percent of suburban schools qualify as “intensely segregated.”
· 15 percent of schools that are majority economically disadvantaged are also majority ELL [English Language Learners].
· Of majority ELL schools, 89 percent are also majority economically disadvantaged.
· Two-thirds of the schools that are intensely poor — with the “vast majority” of students economically disadvantaged — are also majority ELL.
· About 24 percent of Texas elementary schools are triply segregated with majorities of African American and Latina/o, Economically Disadvantaged and ELL students.
· In triple-segregated schools, majority African American and Latina/o schools are 48 percent less likely to be rated “exemplary.”
“So, 50 years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the data reveals that very little has actually changed when it comes to the segregation of African Americans and Latinos in our schools,” said Dr. Vasquez Heilig. “Despite rhetoric to the contrary, demographics are still determining destiny in Texas.”
The authors’ abstract of the study stressed another implication: “Surprisingly, after almost two decades of Texas-style accountability, the overall finding that segregation by SES [socioeconomic status] and race and ethnicity is still highly significant for predicting whether schools will be low performing relative to high performing suggests that high-stakes testing and accountability as systemic reforms have still not delivered as a cure-all in Texas.”
You can view the full report here.