Over the last few years, re-segregation in school districts across the United States has become a pressing issue that isn’t often discussed. As the graduation rates of minorities across the United States continues to be much lower than their Caucasian counterparts, quality of education for these minority students must be addressed.
One of the issues underlying this re-segregation of students is the prominence of charter schools in urban and underprivileged areas. Charter schools risk increased levels of segregation based on race, economic status, and ethnicity due to their ability to choose the students that attend. A charter school is a publicly funded school that is privately run. They enroll approximately 3 million students across 43 different states. Charter schools are independently run and do not rely on a state mandated curriculum. The quality of education, being not mandated, could therefore not be as high as schools that are accredited by the state.
The quality of education received in a certain school district is often determined by the property values in the area. An area that has lower property values will tend to have a lower quality of education, as funding for these schools will be lower. This is incredibly unfair, as many of these districts are concentrated in minority rich areas where economic stability isn’t very prominent. After integration of schools back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the achievement gap between black and white students narrowed tremendously. The narrowing of this gap wasn’t due to some magical switch that made black students want to learn while in the presence of white students; rather it was due to the ability to access facilities that were previously unavailable. Integration of schools has been proven to increase economic opportunity for minority students, increase life expectancy of minority students, and increase the social mobility of these underprivileged students.
Many people who oppose de-segregation of schools suggest that it will bring class sizes to a high level which would decrease the value of education in the higher performing schools. They also worry about violence from the students that are coming from these poorer school districts. They stereotype that the students in these districts don’t value education so it shouldn’t matter where they even go. However, if the students in these schools are put in an atmosphere where there aren’t given resources to learn, it makes them not want to learn. Surrounding students who are doing poorly with those not doing poorly has been proven to increase overall academic performance in a classroom.
Schools that are poorly funded tend to be rich in minorities but poor in the quality of teachers, amount of equipment, and resources needed to fulfill a better education. Many public schools that don’t meet state standards continue being open and allowing students to graduate, without a proper education. These lower level schools, richer in black students, also tend to lack advanced level courses, which put students at a disadvantage when applying for colleges. Many schools in the South have been released from federal integration court orders, resulting in this increased trend of segregation. Coined as “apartheid schools,” many schools contain a white population of one percent or less and tend to underperform due to lack of resources. While many of these schools are in the South, they are also very prominent in the Northeast and Midwest. In fact, Connecticut remains one of the most educationally segregated states in the United States. In Hartford alone, 54% of students attend segregated schools.
Educational inequality is a huge issue in the United States as it reinforces the lack of opportunities present to minorities across the United States. By denying students equal access to education due to their race or socioeconomic status, we create a racial gap in the success of white students compared to minority students. Everyone should be allowed to learn on a level playing field and be able to achieve the success they want in their lives regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.