The Integration Report, issue 17
February 17, 2009
The Integration Report
This issue of The Integration Report celebrates two milestones in our nation’s history: the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19th, followed by the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20th. The Civil Rights Project regularly releases a report on school desegregation and resegregation in honor of Dr. King’s holiday, and, in keeping with that tradition, this issue of TIR commemorates our dual milestones by summarizing some of the newest report’s key findings, along with several important policy recommendations for the new Obama administration.The report also details suburban demographic trends, as well as emerging patterns of segregation in the suburbs. These topics will be covered in the next issue of TIR. Amidst our historic strides forward, many of our school systems still face rising poverty and deepening segregation. After nearly three decades of regressive civil rights policiesPlease see the text of the full report for more in-depth analysis of these policies. – interwoven with two Democratic terms largely defined by passive treatment of the issues – the recent celebrations in DC are juxtaposed against the reality of systemic inequalities that continue to undermine opportunity in American schools. Despite the economic challenges facing school districts nationwide, the conditions illuminated by the CRP report underscore the continued need for districts to commit to programs that help promote and preserve diversity – including free transportation, magnet schools, and interdistrict transfers.
Overarching the many conclusions from the latest report, entitled Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge, and authored by CRP Co-director Gary Orfield, is the fact that students today are more segregated than they were on the eve of Martin Luther King’s death in 1968. At the same time, the nation’s burgeoning racial and ethnic diversity has led to the growth of multiple nonwhite populations in many American schools. Language – or, more specifically, students who are learning English a second language – now adds a third dimension to segregation, previously characterized by poverty and race. As our schools become more separate, and as our attention continues to be diverted to policies related to testing, accountability, and school choice, we as a nation lose sight of the fundamental harms of segregation and ultimately, and the benefits of racially diverse classrooms and educational environments.
Segregation in American Schools
The racial diversity of American students continued to increase in 2006-07 (the most recent year for which data is available), accompanied by rising poverty levels and deepening segregation for black and Latino students. For white students, these two trends intersect, creating a situation where whites are still attending the most racially isolated educational settings, yet at the same time those schools are growing more diverse. In 2006-07, the average white student attended a school where more than three-quarters of their fellow students were white, down from nearly 84% in 1988-89. The presence of multiracial schools, defined as educating students from three or more racial groups, has increased as well. This growth is particularly evident in the West, although the South – traditionally defined by its black/white student dichotomy – now contains a population where one out of every five students identifies as Latino. Still, while many white students may be experiencing an uptick in diversity at their schools, the opposite is true for a substantial portion of African American and Latino students.
Each year since 1991, when the first of three Supreme Court decisions authorizing the rollback of federal desegregation orders was handed down, African American students have experienced rising segregation levels. Today, the average black student attends a school where just 30% of the students are white, compared to 35% in 1988-89. The percentage of African American students attending intensely segregated schools in 2006-07 – hyper segregated schools where 90-100% of the students are from the same racial background – now hovers around 40%. Twenty years ago, 33% of black students went to school in hyper segregated settings. These numbers are accompanied by rising poverty levels in segregated schools. In 1988-89, black students attended schools where 43% of their classmates lived in poverty, a figure that has increased sharply to nearly 60% in 2006-07,the most recent year for which data is available. These patterns are very similar for Latino students.
In 1968, the first year the U.S. government began collecting statistics on Hispanic students, Latinos accounted for around 5% of American students (roughly the size of the Asian student population today). A landmark desegregation case coming out of Denver, Keyes v. Denver School District No. 1 (1973), recognized the rights of Latino students to desegregation remedies. Despite this victory, most Latino students, who now comprise more than 20% of the student population, do not live in districts that implemented desegregation plans. Partly as a result of that trend, the typical Latino student is today slightly more segregated than the typical black student.
The numbers, some more dramatic than others, represent a slow erosion of the gains made during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The potentially segregative effects of the 2007 Supreme Court decision in PICS have not yet been illuminated by the data; it will take several years to truly grasp the implications of the most recent setback.
What do these patterns mean? Amid the potential promise offered by newly diverse schools, and by schools that are now educating students from multiple different racial/ethnic groups, there remains a deep need for administrative and teacher training in how to best harness the academic and social benefits of diversity. And for the many black and Latino students attending hyper segregated schools, the well-documented inequalities that flow from these environments still provide vastly unequal educational opportunities. These students often face limited access to challenging academic coursework and AP classes, which in turn constrains pathways to college, along with exposure to middle class networks and jobs.
Renewing the commitment to integration
Beyond discussing the nation’s current demographic trends and segregation patterns, the CRP report also described the possibilities presented by the recent change in administration. The federal government, which disengaged from serious efforts to study, support and promote desegregation in the early years of the Reagan administration, has the potential to provide strong leadership and action on the issue of segregation.
As the Obama administration develops and refines its education policy agenda over the coming months, finding ways to better understand the above demographic and segregation trends should be at the forefront of the agenda. The following is a list – not exhaustive – of different strategies and policies that would help steer the federal government back in the direction of confronting issues of segregation and racial transition.
The new administration might:These recommendations stem from Gary Orfield’s recently released report, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge.” Los Angeles: UCLA Civil Rights Project.
- Commission a document tracing the arc of progress and regress on desegregation over the past fifty years. This document would summarize research on desegregation in general, but also specifically review the benefits and effects of the federal desegregation aid program (which was in place prior to the Reagan administration).
- Outline a new and timely definition of desegregation and desegregation goals consistent with changing demographic trends. These definitions are currently based on an outdated black/white dichotomy in school districts.
- Support federally funded research on educational strategies that facilitate positive interracial outcomes in schools and classrooms in the midst of racial transition.
- Support school districts in their efforts to create or maintain voluntary integration plans – within the bounds of the recent PICS decision.
- Research and recommend best practices for “choice” mechanisms that promote, rather than erode, racial integration. This would include an emphasis on inserting civil rights provisions into charter school legislation in an effort to reverse current trends suggesting that the creation of charter schools deepens segregation in many school districts. Many magnet schools, traditionally created for the purposes of desegregation, still contain some of those civil rights protections. A renewed emphasis on magnet programs, as opposed to charters, could help alleviate the segregating effects of charter school choice (for more information on magnet schools, please see, “The Forgotten Choice: Rethinking Magnets Schools in a Changing Landscape” at http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/magnet/the_forgotten_choice_rethinking_magnet_schools.pdf )
- Rebuild the civil rights divisions at the Justice and Education Departments, which could generate a federal definition for unitary status, currently a rather amorphous legal term. A focus on combining education and housing efforts at these departments, which was done during the Carter administration, could reenergize policies designed to break the link between residential and school segregation.
These recommendations – and others – could help chart a new course in federal school civil rights policy. For many years, the country has lacked leadership on these issues, and the hard won gains of the ‘60s and ‘70s were slowly reversed. It is time for new visions, new commitments, and new promises in order to restore faith in the federal government’s ability to protect and advance the goals of the civil rights movement.
For next time…
The next issue of TIR will cover a second portion of the new CRP report, highlighting growing diversity and deepening segregation in American suburbs.
Top high schools’ racial stats mimic NYU diversity
Late last week, acceptance letters to New York City’s specialized public high schools were distributed, and the three most exclusive schools in the system showed a striking racial imbalance in relation to the general population of the city (February 11, 2009).
Hillsborough School Board Approves Boundary Changes
More than 3,500 students will be shuffled among different high schools now that the Hillsborough County (Florida) School Board has approved new attendance zones. SeerAnalytics factored transportation costs, diversity and socioeconomic diversity into their models of what schools would look like under the changes (February 11, 2009).
Superintendent to look into magnet lottery change
Midland (Texas) Independent School District board members have requested Superintendent Sylvester Perez look into two separate issues: the magnet school selection process, and enclosing Bunche Early Childhood Center and renovating West Early Childhood Center to protect students from the weather and potential dangers. This year’s magnet lottery is scheduled for April 9. Because the district has been dismissed from the desegregation lawsuit, House said changes to district magnet policy could be permissible (February 11, 2009).
The Beverly Hills Unified School District will lose its financial incentive to accept out-of-town students. The fate of those already enrolled is the subject of heated debate.
One of the most sought-after tickets in Southern California, a permit to enroll a child in the academically acclaimed Beverly Hills Unified School District, may soon disappear. Because of a funding shift, the wealthy district’s financial incentive for accepting out-of-town students will end, probably within the next two years(February 10, 2009).
Charlotte school loses students, active parents
In a heated debate about student reassignments in Wake County schools, the consequences of ditching the district’s diversity policy are a matter of speculation. But in Charlotte, the results are as real as McClintock Middle School. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools dropped its diversity policy in 2002. In the six years after court-ordered desegregation ended in the state’s second-largest district, McClintock Middle’s proportion of poor students rocketed from 47 percent to 72 percent (February 10, 2009).
Opponents of Metro Schools rezoning plan “have not given up”
The administration of Metro Nashville Public Schools appears to be focused primarily on implementation of the district’s rezoning plan. But for the plan opponents, it isn’t over. “They just hope the community will remain silent and just go away,” said Marilyn Robinson, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “We have not given up. The community has not given up.” (February 10, 2009)
Whose Schools Work Better? Wake Disperses Low-Income Students With Busing; Charlotte Gives High-Poverty Schools Extra Money
North Carolina’s two largest school systems – Raleigh-Wake County and Charlottes-Mecklenberg – have taken vastly different approaches to two thorny issues — student reassignment and educating low-income students with hefty academic deficiencies (February 9, 2009).
Closing Arguments Presented in Desegregation Case
Two weeks of testimony have ended, and it’s now up to a federal judge to determine what should be done with Chicago’s 28-year-old school desegregation case. Civil rights groups argued Friday that CPS should have to spell out how it will admit students to its top-flight schools. Also at issue is whether the district is adequately serving 52,000 students who don’t speak English proficiently (February 6, 2009).
Reassignment causes the Wake County school system to feel some heat, but the overall public interest must be served
If the public schools in Wake County were organized like those in New Jersey, say, Wake might have eight or 10 different school systems. Some would be good, benefitting not only from strong teaching and leadership and supportive parents but also from advantageous demographics. That’s a fancy way of saying what everyone knows, which is that kids from well-off families tend to have a leg up in the classroom (February 6, 2009).
School District’s Integration Plan Serves as a Model
Berkeley Unified School District was among the first in the nation to voluntarily desegregate its schools. Now, its integration plan is being studied as a model for other districts (February 6, 2009).
METCO built on early success
Nearly 43 years ago, Lincoln and six other Boston area school districts forged new ground in desegregated education by enabling inner city children to attend school in the suburbs. But implementing the METCO program was just the beginning. A whole new set of challenges and opportunities stepped off the bus on Sept. 6, 1966 when 10 children from Roxbury arrived in Lincoln for their first day of kindergarten (February 5, 2009).
State Department Of Education Completes Comprehensive Management Plan To Meet Agreement In Sheff Case
The state Department of Education this month released its report on how it plans to desegregate Hartford-area schools over the next five years under the long-standing Sheff vs. O’Neill settlement. The report includes detailed plans to expand the number of Hartford minority students in integrated settings through magnet schools, charter schools, technical high schools and suburban schools (February 4, 2009).
Board drew attendance lines, attorney says
School board attorney Buddy Welch told Peach County Board of Education (Georgia) members at Tuesday’s meeting the attendance lines for the two new elementary schools were drawn by the school system, not the U.S. Department of Justice. But in January, Superintendent Susan Clark, after going through a brief history of the 40 years the school system has been under court-ordered desegregation, told people the attendance lines were drawn by the department last year after it received a complaint from a Peach County resident that the new elementary
school sites — on U.S. 341 north of Fort Valley and on Kay Road south of Byron — would further segregate the school system (February 4, 2009).
NAACP: Canceling Yonkers school-choice fair hurts minority parents
A civil rights group is accusing city schools of putting minority parents at a disadvantage by canceling an annual school fair as part of the process by which they can choose which school their children will attend (February 1, 2009).
More Wisconsin students crossing district boundaries
Wisconsin’s public school choice program grew tenfold over its first decade, with nearly 26,000 students crossing district boundaries to attend school last year (January 31, 2009).
Judge approves plans for magnet schools on West Bank
Ongoing desegregation efforts in Jefferson Parish public schools took a small step forward Thursday, as a federal judge made another ruling in the matter. A federal judge approved already existing plans for Jefferson Parish’s magnet schools (January 29, 2009).
TUSD hopes choices help it retain more kids
Since the Tucson Unified School District started telling parents two years ago that their children could go to any school in the district with room for them, thousands of students have switched schools. The numbers tripled from the 2004-05 school year, before the lifting of restrictions to balance race and ethnicity at the district’s schools under a long-standing desegregation order (January 27, 2009)
Black Leaders Condemn ‘Vestiges of Racism’ in School Rezoning
Black leaders held a press conference this morning as part of their unfolding strategy to stop Nashville’s impending return to a more segregated school system. At NAACP headquarters, the Rev. James Lawson–a white-haired eminence of the civil rights movement–took center stage to express his outrage over the student rezoning plan (January 26, 2009).
Kalamazoo Public Schools redistricting could alter student mix, schools’ perceptions
Kalamazoo Public Schools unveiled a redistricting proposal this month for middle and high schools that would level the playing field seeing test-score differences between schools narrow (January 25, 2009).
A dose of reality about neighborhood schools
There’s a new passion for neighborhood schools among younger parents in San Francisco, and at least one community organization, called Plan C, is pushing for an assignment system that stresses them (January 23, 2009).
Federal judge takes big role in fight over Jefferson Parish schools
U.S. Judge Kurt Engelhardt, who is overseeing the process in federal court, has emerged as a major player, much to the bewilderment of the involved parties. Over the past 10 months, the meticulous judge has thrown down a series of challenges, stalling the district’s desegregation process, frustrating board members and baffling attorneys with his contrary rulings (January 24, 2009).
New School Boundary Maps In; Let The Debate Begin
Questions will fly in households throughout Hillsborough County (Florida) during the next several days now that the school board is preparing to sign off on plans that would shuffle thousands of students surrounding a new school site (January 23, 2009).
Chicago parents argue to keep magnet schools
Nearly 30 years ago, the Chicago Public Schools started to push a magnet program that culled students from throughout the city after federal officials put the system under oversight, saying the district had a segregated school system that favored white children over minorities. Now, district officials say they have met the goals of a 1980 consent decree (January 23, 2009).
Latino Civil Rights Group Fights to Keep Desegregation Order on the Books
A hearing begins today to determine whether Chicago’s 29-year-old school desegregation case should be thrown out. The consent decree orders Chicago Public Schools to create as many integrated schools as possible. A lesser-known provision also spells out services the district must provide to students who don’t speak English proficiently. That’s the main reason some are fighting to keep the decree in place (January 22, 2009).
Students testify at hearing about overturning historic consent decree
Students and a parent testified about the difficulties of non-English-speaking students in the Chicago Public School system during the first day of hearings about overturning the 1980 consent decree governing the schools’ desegregation efforts (January 22, 2009).
Municipal officials blast magnet school funds cuts
School superintendents and mayors from five municipalities surrounding New Haven, CT met Thursday at the soon-to-open Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School to decry state cuts to magnet school funding they claim would jeopardize the continued operation of schools (January 16, 2009).
Hartford Bills Towns For Students In Its ‘Host’ Magnets
On top of paying tuition for magnet schools run by the Capitol Region Education Council, Hartford’s suburban districts are being billed for the first time if they send children to one of the city’s district-run “host” magnets (January 16, 2009).
Teacher sees end of diversity’s lesson as Lindbergh transfer program winds down
Districts are phasing out their participation in a desegregation program that has bused thousands of students from the city of St. Louis to suburban districts. At its peak, the program, administered by the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, enrolled about 14,600 transfer students. Now, just under half that amount are participating, with 11 districts continuing to enroll students (January 16, 2009).
Will you miss the voluntary deseg program?
Faced with the end of the deseg program after this school year, participating school districts a couple years ago voted to extend it five years. At the time, the Lindbergh School District in south St. Louis County said it would let already-enrolled transfer students from city schools move through the pipeline but wouldn’t be accepting new students (January 10, 2009).
Minorities quiet on school plan
Hundreds of parents will pack Millbrook High School tonight to lobby for changes to Wake County’s student reassignment plan. The crowd will be mostly white, middle-to-upper income and suburban. Few black or Hispanic parents are expected to speak, especially if they’re from lower-income neighborhoods (January 12, 2009).
GISD might be declared desegregated 50 years later
A federal judge on Friday may declare Galveston public school district desegregated after 50 years. Judge Sim Lake could rule that the district has achieved unitary status — or a formal declaration of desegregation. The ruling would effectively end a lawsuit filed against the district in 1959 (January 8, 2009).
Avoyelles to seek OK to implement desegregation plan
The Avoyelles Parish School Board (Louisiana) voted Tuesday to authorize District Attorney Charles Riddle to seek federal court permission to begin implementation of its new desegregation plan (January 7, 2009).
HISD suspends magnet school busing plan
Houston ISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra has temporarily withdrawn a proposal to cut spending on busing to the district’s beloved magnet schools after failing to get enough support from parents and school trustees (January 5, 2009).
Lowndes County School District wants Justice Department to give up oversight
Lowndes County School District’s (Mississippi) quest to achieve unitary status may be drawing to a close within the next several months according to district officials (January 5, 2009).
Court fight likely over deseg levy in TUSD
The Tucson Unified School District will likely end up in court over the constitutionality of the tens of millions of dollars it receives every year in desegregation funding. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank based in Phoenix, has teamed with the Arizona Tax Research Association, a pro-taxpayer organization, to try to get a legal remedy for what their political efforts so far have failed to do: gut the ability of 19 Arizona school districts to levy extra taxes to help balance schools racially (January 2, 2009).
Additional Resources for School Integration
***NEW*** “Bringing Children Together: Magnet Schools and Public Housing Redevelopment,” is now available at http://www.prrac.org/pdf/bringing_children_together.pdf, and will be up shortly on the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute website (www.charleshamiltonhouston.org/Home.aspx). The report stems from a February 2008 conference on public housing redevelopment, magnet schools and justice reinvestment.
Court-mandated education reform: the San Francisco experience and the shaping of educational policy after Seattle-Louisville and Ho v. SFUSD
Research article examining the arc of desegregation in San Francisco Unified, written by former court monitor, Stuart Biegel, with important implications for school districts around the country in the wake of the PICS decision. http://sjcrcl.stanford.edu/contents.html
Cole Civil Rights Web Site: www.colecivilrights.com The Web site completes Attorney Richard Cole’s transition to private sector civil rights work after 16 years of civil rights service in the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General.
Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race In School
The New Press announces this new publication edited by Mica Pollock. How should teachers and parents respond when children ask challenging questions about race? How should teachers handle the use of the “N-word” or discuss “achievement gaps” with colleagues? How can teachers avoid unwittingly making children of color speak on behalf of their entire group? While numerous books exist about race and race theory, Everyday Antiracism puts theory into practice by offering specific strategies for combating racism in the classroom. This book is available to order through Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.
Sheff Web site
For information regarding the Sheff desegregation case in Connecticut, visit http://www.sheffmovement.org/index.shtml To view the results of a recent statewide poll revealing broad based support for interdistrict desegregation programs, visit http://www.sheffmovement.org/pdf/PollPressRelease6-11-08.pdf
BuildingChoice Web site
This website is designed to help implement and maintain public school choice programs. Included are promising practices from a range of programs, tools, and links to many additional resources to support your choice efforts. http://www.buildingchoice.org/
The School Law Blog
Visit the School Law Blog for an important discussion of news and analysis of legal developments affecting schools, educators, and parents. Mark Walsh has been covering legal issues in education for more than 15 years for Education Week. He writes about school-related cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and in lower courts. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/
Still Looking to the Future: Voluntary K-12 School Integration: A Manual for Parents, Educators and Advocates. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP) are distributing the 2nd edition of their K-12 school integration manual which addresses the practical questions of what can be done to promote diversity and address the harms of racial isolation in schools. To download the manual, please visit LDF at www.naacpldf.org or the CRP/PDC at www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu. To request hard copies or CDs of the manual and supplemental materials, please send an e-mail with your contact information and the number of copies requested to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preserving Integration Options for Latino Students.The Mexican American Legal and Educational Defense Fund (MALDEF) and the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP/PDC) are currently disseminating their collaboratively-written guide for parents, advocates and educators interested in promoting diversity and addressing the harms of Latino racial isolation in their schools. To download the manual, or for additional information, please visit: www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu or www.maldef.org.
April 9, 2009
“Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South & the Nation” at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. CRP will co-host this conference on K-12 integration. More information is available at: http://www.law.unc.edu/centers/civilrights/conferences/default.aspx
The Integration Report – Staff Members
Editor: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Editorial Assistant: Jared Sanchez
Editorial Committee: Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, and Laurie Russman
Webmaster: John Khuu
 The report also details suburban demographic trends, as well as emerging patterns of segregation in the suburbs. These topics will be covered in the next issue of TIR.
 Please see the text of the full report for more in-depth analysis of these policies.
 A more detailed explanation of these trends can be found in Gary Orfield’s recently released report, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge.” Los Angeles: UCLA Civil Rights Project. The report can be viewed at http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/deseg/reviving_the_goal_mlk_2009.pdf.
 For a detailed discussion of the harms of segregation, and conversely, the benefits of integration, please see the “Statement Submitted by 553 Social Scientists” in the PICS decision at http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/deseg/amicus_parents_v_seatle.pdf
 These recommendations stem from Gary Orfield’s recently released report, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge.” Los Angeles: UCLA Civil Rights Project.