Schools are still segregated, and black children are paying a price (2023)

Well over six decades after the Supreme Court declared “separate but equal” schools to be unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, schools remain heavily segregated by race and ethnicity.

What are the consequences of this lack of progress in integrating schools for black children?

  • It depresses education outcomes for black students; as shown in this report, it lowers their standardized test scores.
  • It widens performance gaps between white and black students.
  • It reflects and bolsters segregation by economic status, with black students being more likely than white students to attend high-poverty schools.
  • It means that the promise of integration and equal opportunities for all black students remains an ideal rather than a reality.

In contrast, when black students have the opportunity to attend schools with lower concentrations of poverty and larger shares of white students they perform better, on average, on standardized tests.

Black children are still relegated to separate and unequal schools

Findings on school segregation and student performance come from the National Center for Education Statistics’ National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the most comprehensive study of education performance in the country. We use the most recently released data to describe school segregation and its consequences for math performance of eighth-graders. These data show that only about one in eight white students (12.9%) attends a school where a majority of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. (We refer to this group collectively as students of color hereafter.)In contrast, nearly seven in 10 black children (69.2%) attend such schools (see Figure A).

As shown in Figure B, black students are also in economically segregated schools. Less than one in three white students (31.3%) attend a high-poverty school, compared with more than seven in 10 black students (72.4%).

Figure A

Black children are five times as likely as white children to attend schools that are highly segregated by race and ethnicity: Shares of white and black eighth-graders attending schools with a high concentration of students of color, 2017

RaceHigh-minority (51-100%)
White12.9%
Black69.2%

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Note:Schools with a high concentration of students of color are those in which 51–100% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian.

Notes: Schools with a high concentration of students of color are those in which 51–100% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. The shares are obtained using the full 8th grade mathematics sample from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

(Video) Why Are Schools Still So Segregated?

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Source:Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2017 Mathematics Assessment; 8th grade (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences).

Figure B

Black children are more than twice as likely as white children to attend high-poverty schools: Shares of white and black eighth-graders attending high-poverty schools, 2017

RaceHigh-poverty (51-100%)
White31.3%
Black72.4%

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Note: High-poverty schools are schools in which 51–100% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

(Video) How Black High School Students Are Hurt by Modern-Day Segregation | NowThis

Note: High-poverty schools are schools in which 51–100% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The shares are obtained using the full 8th grade mathematics sample from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2017 Mathematics Assessments; 8th grade (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences).

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In America, race and poverty are intertwined, doubly disadvantaging black students

The known connection between race/ethnicity and poverty in the United States appears in data on the composition of schools attended by for black children. Figure C shows that a black child faces a very high probability of ending up in a school where a majority of her peers are both poor and students of color. While less than 1 in 10 white students (8.4%) attend high-poverty schools with a high share of students of color, six in 10 black students (60.0%) do.

In contrast, about a fourth of white students (23.5%) attend schools where most of their peers are white and not poor, while only 3.1 percent of black children attend such schools.

Figure C

Black children are highly likely to be in high-poverty schools with a high share of students of color, but white children are not: Share of black and white eighth-graders attending low-poverty mostly white schools and and high-poverty schools with high shares of students of color, 2017

RaceLow-poverty and mostly whiteHigh-poverty and mostly students of color
White23.5%8.4%
Black3.1%60.0%

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(Video) School Segregation in America Today | Larry The Sociologist

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Notes: Schools with a high concentration of students of color are those in which 51–100% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. Mostly white schools are those in which more than 75% of students are white. High-poverty schools are schools in which 51–100% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL). Low-poverty schools are those in which up to 25% are FRPL-eligible.

Note: Extended notes:Schools with a high concentration of students of color are those in which 51–100% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. Mostly white schools are those in which more than 75% of students are white. High-poverty schools are schools in which 51–100% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL). Low-poverty schools are those in which up to 25% are FRPL eligible. The shares are obtained using the full 8th grade mathematics sample from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2017 Mathematics Assessments; 8th grade (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences).

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When black children have the opportunity to attend the same schools that white children routinely attend, black children perform markedly better on standardized math tests, which we use here as a measure of education performance.

Figure D shows math scores of black eighth-graders in low-poverty, mostly white schools and in high-poverty schools with a high share of students of color. Inhigh-poverty schools with a high share of students of color, black students scored on average 20 points less on standardized math tests than their counterparts inlow-poverty, mostly white schools (255.4 vs. 275.3). In other words, scores are much lower in the type of school that black children are overwhelmingly more likely to attend (high-poverty, mostly students of color) than in the type of school (low-poverty, mostly white) that only 3.1% of black children have a chance of attending.

Though not shown in the figure, the gap between black and white student test scores is larger in high-poverty schools with a high share of students of color than in low-poverty, mostly white schools. By promoting policies that facilitate a shift away from our current pattern of heavily segregated schools, we would thus help close the gap between black and white students overall.

Figure D

Performance of black students suffers when these students attend high-poverty schools with high shares of students of color: Math performance of black students by school segregation, 2017

Black
Low-poverty and mostly white275.3
High-poverty and mostly students of color255.4

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Notes: Schools with a high concentration of students of color are those in which 51–100% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. Mostly white schools are those in which more than 75% of students are white. High-poverty schools are schools in which 51–100% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL). Low-poverty schools are those in which up to 25% are FRPL eligible.

Note: Results are obtained using regression analyses and the subsample of white and black students participating in the 8th-grade mathematics assessment in the 2017 NAEP. Schools with a high concentration of students of color are those in which 51–100% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. Mostly white schools are those in which more than 75% of students are white. High-poverty schools are schools in which 51–100% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL). Low-poverty schools are those in which up to 25% are FRPL eligible.

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Source: Author’s analysis of microdata from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2017 Mathematics Assessments; 8th grade (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences).

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(Video) Segregation still woven into America's public school system
(Video) A film about no education

Unaddressed school segregation is a major longstanding policy failure. It consigns most black children to schools that put them behind academically. The persistent performance gaps between white and black children that challenge the education and career prospects of black children from early on demonstrate that school segregation continues to cast a very long shadow—from well before Brown v. Board of Education to today, and into the future.

This brief, published by EPI to highlight education issues for Black History Month, shows data that are part of ongoing EPI research on student performance and education inequalities. Information using earlier data on segregation and the consequences for performance for other groups, and technical details, are available in Martin Carnoy and Emma García, Five Key Trends in U.S. Student Performance: Progress by Blacks and Hispanics, the Takeoff of Asians, the Stall of non-English Speakers, the Persistence of Socioeconomic Gaps, and the Damaging Effect of Highly Segregated Schools, Economic Policy Institute, 2017.

FAQs

Are American schools still segregated? ›

Racial segregation in schools has a long history in the United States. Although enforced racial segregation is now illegal, American schools are more racially segregated now than in the late 1960s.

What are the effects of school segregation? ›

From their inception, schools serving students of color received significantly less funding than schools serving white students and faced overcrowding, inadequate supplies, and insufficiently paid teachers. Such disparities resulted in gaps in the educational opportunities available to Black and white communities.

What was an argument for segregated schools? ›

The case for the defenders of segregation rested on four arguments: The Constitution did not require white and African American children to attend the same schools. Social separation of blacks and whites was a regional custom; the states should be left free to regulate their own social affairs.

Does race affect education? ›

Embedded racial inequities produce unequal opportunities for educational success. Systematic policies, practices and stereotypes work against children and youth of color to affect their opportunity for achieving educational success.

When did schools stop being segregated? ›

These lawsuits were combined into the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that outlawed segregation in schools in 1954.

Why is segregation a bad thing? ›

Residential segregation concentrates poverty and social problems in particular neighborhoods, which increases the likelihood of violence. A recent study suggests that high residential segregation can undermine the prosperity of the entire region; property value and income increase more slowly in segregated places.

What were 3 effects of segregation on society? ›

Similarly, it is difficult to disentangle the effects of segregation from the effects of a pattern of social disorgan- ization commonly associated with it and reflected in high disease and mortality rates, crime and delinquency, poor housing, disrupted family life and general substantial living conditions.

What is the relationship between school segregation and poverty? ›

In other words, the apparent effects of racial segregation are pretty much what you'd expect. But the authors point out that schools are also highly segregated by income level, specifically by the fraction of students living in poverty. And measures of racial segregation and “poverty segregation” are highly correlated.

What was the impact of segregated schools on African American students Brainly? ›

What was the impact of segregated schools on African American students? Underfunded African American schools could not prepare most students for college or careers. President Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect students.

Is Brown vs Board of Education being overturned? ›

The court's decision partially overruled its 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, declaring that the "separate but equal" notion was unconstitutional for American public schools and educational facilities.
...
Brown v. Board of Education
Case opinion
MajorityWarren, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV
14 more rows

What was an argument about segregation made by? ›

Marshall argued that these segregated schools were unequal, seeking to overturn the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson stating that segregation was allowable so long as segregated people received equal treatment. Marshall proved to the Supreme Court that segregation was not equal.

Why do Black students underperform? ›

The contending theory asserts that black students underperform because they are likely to be poor and underprivileged, and that addressing the academic achievement gap therefore requires first changing the economic and social conditions in which these students grow up.

What race goes to college the most? ›

In 2016, the total college enrollment rate was higher for Asian young adults (58 percent) than for young adults who were of Two or more races (42 percent), White (42 percent), Hispanic (39 percent), Black (36 percent), Pacific Islander (21 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (19 percent).

Are black schools underfunded? ›

Black students are disproportionately concentrated in poorly funded, low-performing districts. While only 8 percent of children in well-funded, high-performing districts are Black, over 20 percent of children in poorly funded, low-performing districts are Black.

When did schools become segregated? ›

1849 The Massachusetts Supreme Court rules that segregated schools are permissible under the state's constitution. (Roberts v. City of Boston) The U.S. Supreme Court will later use this case to support the "separate but equal" doctrine.

What was the last state to integrate schools? ›

The last school that was desegregated was Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Mississippi. This happened in 2016.

What is the meaning of school segregation? ›

(c) The term “segregation” means the operation of a school system in which students are wholly or substantially separated among the schools of an educational agency on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin or within a school on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

How much of a negative effect did school desegregation have on the outcomes of white children? ›

He finds that although court-ordered school desegregation did not affect outcomes for whites, it significantly improved the adult attainment of blacks born between 1950 and 1975. Rucker analyzes data on over 4000 children born between 1950 and 1975.

Is segregation bad for your health? ›

The health effects of segregation are relatively consistent, but complex. Isolation segregation is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes and increased mortality for blacks, but several studies report health-protective effects of living in clustered black neighborhoods net of social and economic isolation.

What are the positive effects of segregation? ›

Segregation, particularly when the segregated group corresponds to better-off members of society, produces a greater level of labor productivity (Díaz et al., 2020). Social interactions within neighborhoods are a significant device to find a job among peers; hence, they boost labor market matchings.

What are the disadvantages of segregation? ›

The issue with segregation is that it often causes inequality.” Researchers argue racial and economic residential segregation results in neighborhoods with high poverty. This is associated with fewer banks investing in these areas, lower home values and poor job opportunities.

What are the effects of segregation in schools on African American children? ›

Effects of segregation remain consistent

Black children in racially isolated schools perform less well on standardized tests, their graduation rates are lower, and college attendance is lower.

What are the drawbacks of segregated schools? ›

The Disadvantages of Schools Segregated by Sex
  • Promotes Poor Social Skills. When schools prohibit boys and girls from studying together in the same classroom, they may think that their gender is either better or inferior. ...
  • Promotes Sexism. ...
  • Legality. ...
  • Fewer Experiences.

What is the achievement gap between Black and white students? ›

Education attainment

The gap between black and white completion rates narrowed since the 1970s, with completion rates for white students increasing from 86% in 1972 to 95% in 2017, and completion rates for black students rising from 72% in 1972 to 94% in 2017.

Do students from high income families achieve better in school? ›

Elementary School Achievement

Between first and fifth grades, 44 percent of high-achieving lower-income students fall out of the top achievement quartile in reading, whereas only 31 percent of high-achieving students from higher-income families do so.

Who was the first black person to attend a white school? ›

Ruby Bridges - First Black Child to Integrate an All-White Elementary School in the South. On November 14, 1960, at the age of six, Ruby Bridges changed history and became the first African American child to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South.

Why was school desegregation so explosive? ›

Why was school desegregation so explosive? It was a cultural shock because blacks and whites have never been integrated before. The NAACP chose to contest segregation in federal courts. What myths did it force people to confront?

What was the name of the Supreme Court case that opens all public schools to black students? ›

Board of Education (1954, 1955) The case that came to be known as Brown v. Board of Education was actually the name given to five separate cases that were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the issue of segregation in public schools.

Can the Supreme Court overturn segregation? ›

The decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka on May 17, 1954 is perhaps the most famous of all Supreme Court cases, as it started the process ending segregation. It overturned the equally far-reaching decision of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.

Is the Supreme Court looking at Brown vs Board of Education? ›

The US Supreme Court is slowly but surely overturning Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed state support for unequal, segregated public schools. Citing religious freedom, Chief Justice John Roberts recently led the Court to sanction religious discrimination in publicly financed private schools.

Is Brown vs Board of Education a law? ›

Contents. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.

Why did the Supreme Court rule segregated schools unconstitutional? ›

The Supreme Court's decision was unanimous and felt that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," and hence a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

How did the Brown vs Board of Education impact society today? ›

The legal victory in Brown did not transform the country overnight, and much work remains. But striking down segregation in the nation's public schools provided a major catalyst for the civil rights movement, making possible advances in desegregating housing, public accommodations, and institutions of higher education.

Who won Brown vs Board of Education? ›

May 17, 1954: In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court hands down an unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional.

When did Texas end segregation? ›

The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) declared the unconstitutionality of the "separate but equal" doctrine in schools, public vehicles, eating establishments, and the like.

Was school desegregation successful? ›

In the most basic sense, they did succeed. School segregation dropped substantially as courts and the federal government put pressure on local districts to integrate. But those efforts also sparked bitter, sometimes racist, resistance that shaped political discourse for decades.

When did segregation start in schools? ›

1849 The Massachusetts Supreme Court rules that segregated schools are permissible under the state's constitution. (Roberts v. City of Boston) The U.S. Supreme Court will later use this case to support the "separate but equal" doctrine.

When was Brown vs Board Education? ›

Board of Education (1954, 1955) The case that came to be known as Brown v. Board of Education was actually the name given to five separate cases that were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the issue of segregation in public schools.

What was the last state to desegregate? ›

In September 1963, eleven African American students desegregated Charleston County's white schools, making South Carolina the last state to desegregate its public school system.

Was there slavery in Texas? ›

The Mexican government was opposed to slavery, but even so, there were 5000 slaves in Texas by the time of the Texas Revolution in 1836. By the time of annexation a decade later, there were 30,000; by 1860, the census found 182,566 slaves -- over 30% of the total population of the state.

Who was the first Black person to come to Texas? ›

The first person of African heritage to arrive in Texas was Estevanico, who came to Texas in 1528.

Videos

1. The Price Paid for Brown: Desegregation & the Expulsion of Black Teachers — Implications Then & Now
(ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice)
2. School Segregation is Still Pretty Bad Today
(FUSION)
3. Heartbreaking Moment When Kids Learn About White Privilege | The School That Tried to End Racism
(Channel 4)
4. Why School Choice is the Black Choice | #CBCFALC2019
(Roland S. Martin)
5. Why America Is Still Segregated In 2020 - Housing Discrimination, Redlining, FHA Loans & More
(The Global Black History Podcast)
6. Why Are Schools Still Segregated? - Dr Nurenberg
(Minuteman Media Network)
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