Science + Technology

Separate and unequal schools pervasive in the Southland

Public elementary and secondary schools in Southern California have become profoundly segregated by race, class and other measures, according to a new report by the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.

Latino and black students are increasingly isolated from whites and Asians in schools, the report found, and this segregation is linked to sharp differences in educational opportunities and achievements.

"There is almost no public discussion of segregation in Southern California, though the differences in schools and neighborhoods one or two freeway exits apart are often shocking," said Civil Rights Project co-director Gary Orfield. Orfield co-authored the report, "Divided We Fail: Segregation and Inequality in the Southland's Schools," with fellow center researchers Genevieve Siegel-Hawley and John Kucsera.

"Whites and Asian students, on average, attend very different schools [from Latinos and blacks]," the report said. While white students represent 25 percent of the population in public schools, the average white student attends a school that is nearly 50 percent white. About 50 percent of the region's students are Latino, and black students represent 8 percent, the study said. Though whites and Asians together make up 36 percent of the region's students, black and Latino students attend schools where less than a quarter of students are white or Asian.
At intensely segregated schools, where 90 percent or more of the students are Latino or black, only 22 percent of students attend some form of college, compared with 43 percent from majority white and Asian schools, the research shows. More than 40 percent of Latino students and nearly one-third of black students attend such intensely segregated schools.

"It is time to revive the policy discussion on the issue of school segregation," said report co-author Siegel-Hawley.

The study examined data on 3.6 million public school students in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Riverside and Ventura counties, where 20 percent of the nation's Latinos attend school.

The report is available online.
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