It’s time to dispense with the myth of America as a melting pot, especially when it comes to schools. Because as divided as our national politics can be, our public schools are that — and then some.

A recent federal report finds that despite increasing student diversity in U.S. public schools overall, de facto segregation is on the rise. Government Accountability Office researchers found that nearly one-third of students attend a predominantly same-race/ethnicity school, and some 14% of students go to school with a student body that is a single race/ethnicity.

Perhaps most troubling, the report found, is the rapid expansion of the number of secessions, where communities within an existing school district break away, forming their own new district. Dozens of communities in states around the country have done this, with a stark increase occurring in the last several years. While the instigators of these secessions claim they simply want more local control, the data is telling of their true motivation.

The GAO report found that these new districts are overwhelmingly whiter and much less Black and brown. Of the 36 district successions, the student populations were 28% white and 57 percent Black before breaking away. The new districts were 73% white and 13% Black. What’s more, the report found that the newer districts cut their number of low-income students, as measured by eligibility for free and reduced-price school lunch, in half. As a result, the original districts were left with fewer resources for higher-needs student populations, while the breakaway, whiter districts generally took with them a higher tax base and a more privileged student population. The wealthier breakaway districts get more Advanced Placement courses, dual-enrollment opportunities and other academic advantages, while the poorer districts face budget cuts, staffing reductions and poorer student outcomes. The result is a deepening of not only racial segregation, but also opportunity and income gaps that perpetuate multigenerational poverty and community struggle.

Read the full article about empowering leaders of color by Mike Bland at The 74.