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SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL: Report Finds Growing Segregation in American Schools

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"What the country needs now..."

While the American school system is becoming increasingly multiracial, it is simultaneously becoming more separate and unequal, according to a new report from the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. The report, Racial Transformation and the Changing Nature of Segregation, marks the project’s fourth annual look at the status of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for equity and integration in American schools.

“What the country needs now,” said coauthor Gary Orfield, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the Civil Rights Project, “is a new recognition that our success as a nation depends on equal opportunity for all students and for preparing all groups of Americans to live in an extremely multiracial society that will have no racial majority and is risking its future when it confines its growing populations to separate and unequal schools.”

In its examination of the changing patterns of segregation in the American school system over the past 4 decades, the report found that the most dramatic trends in resegregation have occurred in the South and the border states for black students and in the West for Latinos. The report found that from 1991 to 2003, the number of black students attending majority nonwhite schools rose sharply across all regions. Latinos, who constitute the largest minority, are increasingly segregated in regions where they are concentrated. Asians are the least segregated group of students and are most likely to attend multiracial schools. Research has shown that students who attend segregated schools are increasingly ill-prepared to succeed in school and beyond.

In addition to examining the causes and consequences of desegregation trends, the report offers policy recommendations for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, bilingual education, the training of teachers, high school dropout rates, the competitiveness of the American labor force, and other issues facing society today.

The complete report is available at http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/research/deseg/Racial_Transformation.pdf.

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