Giving Compass' Take:

• Jill Barshay reports that increased segregation is occurring between - not within - school districts, pointing to population distribution as a cause of segregation. 

• How can funders work to ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to move into neighborhoods and school districts regardless of background? 

• Learn how local governments reinforce segregation in America

The immediate coverage of an important July 2019 study on Latino children in America emphasized how they are increasingly “segregated” from white children at school. Reporters at both Politico and Education Week highlighted that the average Latino child doesn’t interact with white children at school as much as he or she used to. By 2010, the nation’s Latino children attended elementary schools where nearly 3 out of every 10 classmates were white, on average, down from 4 out of 10 in 1998.

In 12 years, that’s a big jump in ethnic isolation. For many Latino children, especially those who live in low-income Latino neighborhoods, the limited contact with white peers is more extreme. The nation’s 10 poorest districts, enrolling at least 50,000 students, were already quite segregated in 1998, and they backslid even further by 2010, the study found. (According to separate federal data, 17 percent of Latino students attended a school that was 90 percent or more Latino in 2010, up from 15 percent of Latino students in 1995.)

But the research team in this new study also calculated that children of different ethnicities and races, including Latino, white, black and Asian students, have become more evenly distributed within the nation’s school districts. It’s hard to express this with a simple number because of the math involved in calculating the even distribution of people. One index of how evenly students of different races and ethnicities are distributed throughout the schools within a district found that the mix improved 21 percent during this 1998 to 2010 time period. Arguably, that’s a big improvement in “integration” and a meaningful decrease in “segregation.”

“These two measures tell you something different,” said Bruce Fuller, a Berkeley professor and lead author of the study, “Worsening School Segregation for Latino Children?” published in Educational Researcher. “White kids might be more evenly spread in schools across a district, but there might be very few white kids to spread around in some districts.”

The answer has to do with population changes and migration patterns.

Read the full article about segregation by Jill Barshay at The Hechinger Report.