New U.S. GAO Report: American Schools Increasingly Separate and Unequal!

Dear Commons Community,

The U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report this past Tuesday (May 17th) that found that American schools are increasingly becoming more segregated. It has been 62 years since Brown v. Board of Education made segregated schools unconstitutional. Yet the number of black students attending separate and unequal institutions is on the rise, according to the U.S. GAO report. In addition, these institutions also routinely fail to provide students of color with the same resources given to their white counterparts.


“The percentage of K-12 public schools in the United States with students who are poor and are mostly Black or Hispanic is growing and these schools share a number of challenging characteristics. From school years 2000-01 to 2013-14 (the most recent data available), the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had high percentages of poor and Black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent, according to GAO’s analysis of data from the Department of Education (Education). These schools were the most racially and economically concentrated: 75 to 100 percent of the students were Black or Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—a commonly used indicator of poverty. GAO’s analysis of Education data also found that compared with other schools, these schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science, and college preparatory courses and had disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in 9th grade, suspended, or expelled.”

The law no longer condones segregated schooling like it did in the days before Brown, but an insidious system of stratified schooling exists all the same. What’s more, the report says governmental agencies such as the Department of Education and Department of Justice are not doing all they could to dismantle this system.

“More than 60 years after the Brown decision, our work shows that disparities in education persist and are particularly acute among schools with the highest concentrations of minority and poor students.” the report’s conclusion says.

This backwards procession toward  school resegregation is a relatively new phenomenon after years of progress during the late 1960s,’70s and ’80s. While advancements were slow in the immediate years following Brown, legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped speed up desegregation. However, court decisions and federal inaction during the late ’80s and ’90s helped undo much of this progress.


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