New Study Shows Racial Segregation Harms Both Black, White Students
New research shows that 30 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to desegregate the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) School District, racial segregation still exists and that it has a profound effect on both Black and White children. These findings are reported by Dr. Roslyn Arlin Mickelson in “Subverting Swann: First- and Second-Generation Segregation in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools,” just published in the summer issue of American Educational Research Journal.
Mickelson examines the negative effects of both first-generation segregation, which is the physical segregation of schools by racial composition, and second-generation segregation, in which students are segregated by race as a consequence of academic tracking. The new study clearly demonstrates that both types of segregation impair both Black and White students’ academic achievement, but that Blacks suffer the greatest injury.
“Subverting Swann” shows that compared to their peers who attended integrated elementary schools, high school students who attended segregated elementary schools earn lower grades and test scores. Furthermore, the more time both Black and White students spend in schools attended predominantly by Black students, the lower their grades, test scores and their high school placement. This holds true even with family background and individual characteristics held constant. Because Blacks spend more time in segregated schooling, they suffer more from its consequences.
“The importance of these findings go beyond Charlotte,” says Mickelson. “They offer support for the continued use of desegregated schools and classrooms as strategies to narrow the racial gap in achievement.”
That segregation still exists in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District is important because the district is considered a national model of successful desegregation. It was 30 years ago, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, when the U.S. Supreme Court permitted busing as a strategy for desegregation.
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