Most Believe Integration Improved
Education for Black Students, Poll Finds
Nearly three-fourths of Americans say integration of the nation’s schools has improved the quality of education for Black students, according to an Associated Press poll. However, the view was more prevalent among Whites than Blacks.
The poll also found four in five parents of school-age children prefer schools with Black, White and Hispanic students to ones with students of the same race or mostly from another race. However, four in five in the poll oppose transferring students to more distant schools to achieve racial balance.
“People like the idea of racially mixed schools,” said Dr. Charles Clotfelter, author of the new book After Brown: The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation on the historic court decision that desegregated schools. “They don’t like the idea of children being bused across town,” said Clotfelter, a public policy professor at Duke University.
By a 2-1 margin, Whites said public schools are doing a good job of serving all children equally, regardless of race. Blacks were evenly split on that question.
The poll indicates that people have grown more convinced over the past three decades that public school integration has increased the quality of education for both Black and White students. Almost three-fourths now say integration has improved the quality of education received by Black students, but only four in 10 felt that way in a 1971 Gallup poll. In addition, while three-fourths of Whites said in the recent poll that integration has improved the education of Black students, just more than half of Blacks felt that way.
Half of those surveyed said integration has improved the quality of education for White students, while almost that many said it had not. In 1971, about a fourth said integration has improved the quality of education for White students.
The level of racial separation in public schools dropped sharply between 1970 and 1990, but researchers say that trend has shifted in the last decade because of court decisions relaxing standards and shifting authority back to school districts.
“We’ve definitely made progress since the late 1960s,” said Chungmei Lee, a research associate at the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. “But we’re seeing a lot of the progress being reversed.”
Research has shown that as strict court supervision has waned, the level of integration has receded slightly.
The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs in April and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
— Associated Press
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