Student Desegregation In America: Diverse Schools Also Pose Problems

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald July 27, 04:16 am

The United States has been grappling with student segregation in its schools. Schools in New York, for instance, are known for separating white students from their colored peers. Despite efforts to desegregate, America found that putting segregated pupils into diverse classrooms also presents problems.

A new report issued by the Government Accountability Office found that highly impoverished K-12 public schools have risen from nine percent to 16 percent from the school years 2000-01 to 2013-14. These schools are majorly attended by black or Hispanic students, with their numbers doubling from 4.1 million to 8.4 million in recent years.

Civil Rights Project researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles found that 74 percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino pupils study in non-white schools. Highly segregated schools, meanwhile, have 38 percent of black students and 43 percent of Latino pupils. These highly segregated schools only have 10 percent of white students.

Benefits Of Student Desegregation

Past studies found that desegregated schools provide important benefits to children such as drop in prejudice, better analytical thinking, increased civic commitment, and improved learning outcomes, the U.S. News & World Report listed. Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education, said children tend to stereotype and generalize less if they interact with kids that have different racial and economic backgrounds than their own.

A study published in 2011 by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that desegregated schools produce students -- even black ones -- with higher educational accomplishments, which means they are likely to have higher salaries when they enter the workforce.

Diverse classrooms affect and shape children's attitudes in their future working conditions. Employers tend to prioritize applicants that can work and excel in diverse environments. Desegregated schools also yield adults with more esteemed professions, better health, and have low chances of being imprisoned, according to The Hechinger Report.

Students Could Suffer In Diverse Environments Too

There's one problem, though. If children aren't exposed to diversity early on in their lives, how are they going to excel in diverse schools and environments? Some school districts are trying to remedy this situation.

Hartford, Connecticut, for instance, has a transfer program that allows city children to study in suburban schools, and vice-versa. This move made almost 50 percent of Hartford students attend desegregated schools.

In New York's Upper West Side, meanwhile, has a plan that redistributes schools based on public-housing development. With this, students of color are given the chance to attend schools majorly attended by whites and with high academic success rates. This plan, however, could put white students in schools that have low-performance rates and turn their learning progress backward.

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