The “New Segregation” in U.S. Schools
More than 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education offered the hope of integrated classrooms, today’s schools not only remain racially segregated, but are dividing along gender lines, sexual orientation and immigration status in the name of better education, according to the Spring 2010 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.
“The sad truth is that our public schools are more racially segregated today than they were 40 years ago,” said Lecia Brooks, director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “We’re back to buying into the belief that separate can be equal -- and this time around we’re not limiting segregated classrooms to race.”
In a series of articles titled “The New Segregation,” Teaching Tolerance examines the state of racial segregation in public schools and how some educators are embracing the idea of creating schools and classrooms that separate other groups of students who are often ill-served by schools.
Today, one-third of black students attend school in places where the population is more than 90%black. Almost half of white students attend schools that are more than 90% white. One-third of all black and Latino students attend high-poverty schools where more than 75% of students received free or reduced-price lunches, compared with 4% of white students.
In addition, educators are experimenting with segregating students based on characteristics other than race.
The magazine examines the practice of creating gender-segregated classrooms and looks at schools created to provide safe havens for gay students hoping to escape harassment and bullying. It also explores schools focused on the needs of immigrant students and describes the obstacles that students with mental disabilities encounter in mainstream classrooms. Other articles offer educators tips on how to address issues related to segregation that they may face in their own classrooms -- whether it is teaching the Civil Rights Movement in a segregated community or reaching the lone student of color in a class.
Teaching Tolerance magazine, published twice a year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the nation’s leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. In 2007, the magazine was named Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers for the second consecutive year. Teaching Tolerance films have garnered four Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy.