Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) discussed the GAO report on racial discrimination in schools at a recent press conference. This photo was taken during the 2013 Annual Legislative Conference for the Congressional Black Caucus. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)
By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA News Wire Contributor)
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the segregation of African American and Hispanic students nationwide is getting worse.
In particular, a notable increase in segregation among K-12 public schools was pointed out in the study. The study also found that charter schools may often take students from public schools and enroll them into less diverse schools.
The study also found that Hispanic students were “triple segregated” by economics, race and language barriers. The report was released on the 62nd anniversary of the landmark decision in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional.
On May 16, a judge in Cleveland, Miss., found that schools in the town were just as segregated as they were a half-century ago.
“The delay in desegregation has deprived generations of students of the constitutionally guaranteed right of an integrated education,” U.S. District Judge Debra Brown wrote.
At a press conference on Capitol Hill, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), House Education and Workforce ranking Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and House Judiciary ranking member Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) along with Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) spoke on the issue.
Reps. Conyers, Butterfield and Scott will author a bill that would require schools to “designate at least one employee” to work on complying with diversity requirements.
“The percentage of schools where 75 percent of students are both low-income and Hispanic or African-American has increased from 9 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2014,” Rep. Conyers said.
The report also found that schools that were segregated offered fewer courses in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields and college preparatory classes.
“Segregation in public K-12 schools isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse, and getting worse quickly,” Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia said.
Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted that, “There are 6,727 highly-segregated schools in our nation, where one percent or less of the school population is white. #BrownVBoard.”
In a statement about the report, National Urban League President Marc Morial said that the findings in GAO report confirm “that the promise of Brown remains a promise that has gone largely unfulfilled.”
Morial continued: “In too many communities, students of color are now more segregated with less access to equitable educational opportunities than in decades prior.”
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Director Sherrilyn Ifill said that the report shines a light on worsening education inequities that that cannot be divorced from our nation’s legacy of racial discrimination that has perpetuated racial and socioeconomic isolation.
Ifill said: “It is our imperative on the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education to ask, ‘How will we act to address current disparities like resource inequities and discriminatory discipline practices?’”