Report: Public schools in the District remain highly segregated
Public schools in the nation’s capital remain highly segregated, a new analysis shows, with many D.C. campuses enrolling almost exclusively students of color despite an influx of white families into the city in recent years.
The Civil Rights Project at UCLA found in a report released this month that 71 percent of black students in the D.C. public school system and the city’s charter sector attended schools in 2013 that had virtually no white peers. That was down from nearly 90 percent in 1992.
But the report’s authors argued that city officials have not done enough to lure white families into public schools and to diversify the enrollment of individual campuses. They contend that the city’s changing demographics — with no single racial or ethnic group accounting for a majority of its estimated 681,000 residents — make it ripe for new initiatives, such as high-quality magnet programs, to promote racial integration in schools.
“Washington now has possibilities that most cities simply don’t have, and what’s striking about it is that officials have tried everything else [other] than welcoming diversity into schools,” said Gary Orfield, a UCLA professor who co-authored the study with postdoctoral researcher Jongyeon Ee.
Orfield and other experts say racial segregation can hurt minority students because their schools tend to have fewer resources as well as teachers with less experience, and that can lead to lower academic achievement. Often those schools have high concentrations of students from low-income families, leading to what the report’s authors call “double segregation” — by race and by economic class.
D.C. education officials say they value diversity and have put policies in place to expand options for families.
Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, credited Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) for supporting a program that allows students free rides on public transportation to and from school. The program allows students from various racial, economic and geographic backgrounds to attend public charter schools throughout the city, Pearson said.