10 Reasons Segregation in Schools Still Exists

When I attended Oakland public schools in the 1970s, my classmates were Asian, black, Latino and white. So I was simply shocked when a student, also from northern California, told me a few weeks ago that she had been the only Latina student in her public school in the late 1990s and early 2000s. All the other kids were white and had, she said, teased her mercilessly about her name.

Segregation is indeed alive and well in U.S. schools according to a recent analysis of US Department of Education data from the UCLA’s Civil Rights Project. For all that the U.S. is well on its way to being a multiracial society, white students are largely concentrated in schools with other whites while students who are black and Latino (the largest minority groups in the U.S.) are segregated from them.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, black students attended schools that were less and less segregated, but this trend started to reverse after a 1991 Supreme Court decision under which it became “easier for school districts and courts to dismantle desegregation plans,” says the Civil Rights Project. In fact, most major school desegregation plans have now been dismantled. Here are ten disturbing findings from the report:

1. Black and Latino students are twice as likely as white or Asian student to attend schools where the majority of children are from low-income families (measured by eligibility for free and reduced price lunches).

2. The average black and Latino students now attend schools where two-thirds of the children are from low-income families. In the early 1990s, such students went to schools where about one-third of the children were from low-income families.

3. 80 percent of Latino students and 74 percent of black students attend schools that are “majority nonwhite,” meaning that 50-100 percent of the students are minorities.

4. Fully 15 percent of black students and 14 percent of Latino ones attend “apartheid” schools where the white student population is 0-10 percent.

5. Eight out of the 20 states that have the highest number of such “apartheid” schools are in the South or near the border.

6. The typical white student (white students comprise just over half of U.S. students) attends a school that is three-quarters white.

7. In California, the average Latino student attended a school with 54.5 percent white peers in 1970. In 2009, only a far smaller 16.5 percent did.

8. Chicago, New York, Detroit, Boston, St. Louis and Pittsburgh are the metropolitan areas are where black-white student dissimilarities are the most pronounced.

9. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has “taken no significant action to increase school integration or to help stabilize diverse schools as racial change occurs in urban and suburban housing markets and schools.”

10. If anything, the Obama administration has pushed for states to expand charter schools which, says the Civil Rights Project, are the “most segregated sector of schools for black students.”

The Civil Rights Project offers some concrete suggestions for turning back the tide on segregation. Local housing organizations need to keep a close watch on land use and zoning decisions and push for low-income housing developments to be built near “high quality, diverse schools.” The U.S. Justice Department and the Office for Civil Rights are called on to invoke Title VI in certain school districts to bring back federal anti-segregation policies. Federal, state and local governments need to actively create and enact policies that reduce racial isolation and create diverse schools.

I was — we should all be — highly troubled to read the words “segregation” and “apartheid” in the report. The data reveals that the U.S. has taken several steps backwards in creating truly diverse schools for today’s children and with what result for tomorrow?

Related Care2 Coverage

The Racist History Behind The Repeal The 17th Amendment Movement

2010 Census Results: 1 in 6 US Residents is Latino

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness


Photo from the National Archives and Record Administration via Wikimedia Commons


Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Work to eliminate the inequality

Steve Davis
Steve Davis4 years ago

Strange how so many know so little about their public schools....

None of these are prejudice, segregation yes, prejudiced no.

The racial make-up of any school reflects the racial make-up of the community in which it serves; therefore, schools are not still segregated, communities are.

Does this occur because of prejudice? Not really, a parent's level of income greatly influences the quality of education given within public schools. So when the quality is low, incomes remain low.

It's no longer about equality, it's about the equity of education given to every student in the US.

Our approach to funding education needs to change. It's time to stop thinking about race, it's time to think about how to provide the same level of eduction to everyone.

It's time to stop spending an insane amount of money on prisons and prisoners, and spend it on schools and students.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Edvanir L.
Edvanir L4 years ago

For all of those saying that it has to do with jobs, family income, district, etc., please, read this article: http://www.care2.com/causes/georgia-teens-fight-for-first-ever-racially-integrated-prom.html

It's NOT ALL about income or district, otherwise, why would those girls mentioned in that article be at the same school, but in separated classrooms?
In one world: PREJUDICE!

Edvanir L.
Edvanir L4 years ago

Jane, how about this?

In a small town in Georgia, girls are trying to have the FIRST racially integrated prom:


Edvanir L.
Edvanir L4 years ago

Marie-Anne P. said: "It's america a country that promotes people living together side by side".

I think some articles about segregation we have seen here show us that your assertive is nothing more than a mistake. And I'm truly sorry for this.

Edvanir L.
Edvanir L4 years ago

"From the 1960s to the 1980s, black students attended schools that were less and less segregated, but this trend started to reverse after a 1991 Supreme Court decision under which it became 'easier for school districts and courts to dismantle desegregation plans,'..."

Which decision exactly was that? I'd love to see this i the article.

It's absolutely choking to read this kind of information! Shame on everyone who still support such thing!

Misty Lemons
Past Member 5 years ago

And It's Not Just About Races Being Segregated. It's The Rich And The Poor Or The Smart, The Jocks, And The Children Who May Have ADD/HD Or Behavior Issues Being Segregated As Well. I'm Currently Trying To Effect Change In My Own Child's School District. They Recently Snuck In A Policy Without Parental Input That Will Double Punish Children For Bad Behavior. If The Child Gets Sent To The School's "Time Out" Room 3 Or More Times In A Semester The Child Will Not Be Allowed To Join Their Friends And Peers During The School's Holiday Parties And Festivities. My Question Is Why Punish Them Again For Things They've Already Been Punished For? It Isn't Fair And I Don't Think It Will Send The Message They Are Hoping For To The Children. Please, Sign The Petition To Help These Children. I Want To Help Them Have A Voice When No One Else Seems To Be Standing Up For Them. The Next School Board Meeting Is Coming Up And I Will Present The Petition To The Board Then. Thank You For Your Support.


Marieanne Phillips

It seems that paranoia runs high with the american people. It seems that not eating, thinking, wearing the same style of clothes, using the same type of jargon in speech all contributes to flocking and sticking together. Also to mention the amount of money (income) one earns keeps people to flocking together. It would be interesting what one would learn if they stepped out of their comfort zone and reach out to others who are not eating drinking and earning the same amount of money, this could also break down the barrier of ignorance and reduce fear, learn a little bit about others culture, etc. It's america a country that promotes people living together side by side.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

Job availability is the real issue here. I don't think anyone is purposefully "segregating" anyone. Around my house you go to school based on what district you live in. If you are the only black kid, it's because you live in an area where mostly white people live. The government can't FORCE people to drive further just so they can have more black people in a school (or latinos or people who believe a certain way ect)