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Posts Tagged ‘segregation

Seattle Schools are Resegregating

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In “The Resegregation of Seattle Schools”  (Seattle Times) Linda Shaw discusses how demographic, economic, and political forces are resegregating schools. The news in the article wasn’t new to me – I’ve been following the debate about the resegregation of students and teachers for a few years. Many parents that I speak to don’t see an inherent flaw in segregation – they say that the race of students should not be a determinant of achievement. This ‘color blind’ rhetoric is dangerous because race and academic success are still linked in this country.

Quotation from Why Segregation Matters (Orfield and Lee, 2005):

Evidence of the Multidimensional Nature of Segregation in Education

Race is deeply and systematically linked to many forms of inequality in background, treatment, expectations and opportunities. From an educational perspective, perhaps the most important of those linkages is with the level of concentrated poverty in a school. These differences start at an early age. A comprehensive federal study of children across the country entering kindergarten shows very large differences in the acquisition of skills invaluable for school success long before the children ever enter a schoolhouse. Schools where almost all of the students come with these problems obviously face very different challenges than schools where some of the kindergarteners come better prepared.

Our study of metro Boston shows a strong relationship between segregation by race and poverty and teacher quality, test scores and dropout rates. In the entire metro region, 97 percent of the schools with less than a tenth white students face concentrated poverty compared to 1 percent of the schools with less than a tenth minority students. These differences were strongly related to the results on the high stakes MCAS state examinations.

Seattle policymakers have a hard choice to make. Voters are pushing for school choice – from charters, to open enrollment in public schools and school vouchers. Also, parents want to reap the rewards of moving into a nicer neighborhood, and are unwilling to have their children bussed to schools in poor communities. Is it possible to preserve school choice AND create a system where students all have access to resources normally found in middle and upper-class schools? What about the ’school within a school’ phenomenon: does desegregation matter if students segregate themselves in social situations or are placed on divergent academic tracks?

I am curious to see how the demographics of the schools I attended in Federal Way have changed (Federal Way is just outside of Seattle). My experiences with race in my elementary and middle school years prompted me to pursue scholarships and attend a private school (subject for another post). It is hard to draw conclusions from 3 years of numbers. The percentage of Hispanic students increased and the share of white students decreased for all of the schools. The number of students enrolled decreased as well. It would be interesting to obtain data from the past 10 – 20 years and run a few regressions.

Here is a quick check of demographic data (from schools I’ve attended):

Rainier View Elementary

Student Characteristics

Distribution of Student Ethnicity 2005 2006 2007
African American 12.75 15.65 14.80
Asian American 16.00 16.98 16.50
Hispanic 9.50 9.81 10.80
Native American 2.00 2.12 2.30
White 57.00 50.40 45.60
Pac Islander 1.00 .80 4.00
Multi-Racial 1.50 3.98 5.50
Other Student Characteristics 2005 2006 2007
Number of Students (Oct.) 400 353 375
Free/Reduced Meals 41.50% 47.3 53.0%
Green Gables Elementary:

Student Characteristics

Distribution of Student Ethnicity 2005 2006 2007
African American 13.79 13.38 11.80
Asian American 12.81 12.88 11.00
Hispanic 6.65 6.82 12.10
Native American .99 .25 .80
White 63.30 58.84 55.10
Pac Islander .49 3.54 5.40
Multi-Racial 1.48 3.28 2.30
Other Student Characteristics 2005 2006 2007
Number of Students (Oct.) 406 367 390
Free/Reduced Meals 25.1% 31.9% 33.9%
Saghalie Junior High:

Student Characteristics

Distribution of Student Ethnicity 2005 2006 2007
African American 21.31 20.25 21.90
Asian American 16.39 13.71 12.30
Hispanic 15.35 18.69 22.60
Native American 2.09 1.87 1.90
White 43.07 42.99 36.40
Pac Islander 1.19 1.25 2.20
Multi-Racial .60 .93 1.90
Other Student Characteristics 2005 2006 2007
Number of Students (Oct.) 674 632 585
Free/Reduced Meals 50.8% 52.9% 59.9%
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Written by TeacherC

3 June 2008 at 1:23 am