School segregation of Hispanics in U.S. on the rise

January 09, 1992|By Bob Dart | Bob Dart,Cox News Service

WASHINGTON -- Segregation of Hispanic students has grown "dramatically" as their numbers doubled during the past two decades, a study of school population patterns showed yesterday.

Meanwhile, progress toward racial integration in urban schools has stagnated since the early 1970s, the study found. And a middle-class black exodus from the inner cities is rapidly changing the racial composition of schools in suburbs such as DeKalb County, Ga., where the school population changed from 5 percent black in 1967 to 54 percent black in 1988.

However, an expected school resegregation for blacks in recent years "did not occur either on a national basis or in the South, where most blacks live," said the report prepared for the National School Boards Association.

The report, "Status of School Desegregation: The Next Generation," was written by Gary Orfield, a professor of education and social policy at Harvard University. It was based on data from 40,000 schools collected by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.

Not surprisingly, researchers found that inner-city public schools have largely been abandoned by white families and increasingly by middle-class black families as minorities join the flight to the suburbs.

"Segregation has grown slowly and steadily for blacks in those central cities that were desegregated under policies that left their surrounding suburbs unchanged," the report said.

However, Hispanic students are increasingly more likely to be segregated than are their black counterparts, especially in the West, the report said.

"In 1988-1989, 10 percent more Hispanic than black students were in schools with less than half whites," the report said. "Since 1970, the percent of whites in the school of the typical Hispanic student has fallen by 12 percent, while the level has remained relatively stable for blacks."

The report said progress in school desegregation has been greatest and most enduring in the region that originally fought these changes the hardest -- Dixie.

"Blacks remain significantly less segregated than they were before the civil rights movement, with the most dramatic contrasts in the historic heart of black segregation, the Old South," the report said. "Hispanics, on the other hand, have experienced a gradual and continuing increase in segregation."

"Hispanics in California are more segregated than blacks in Alabama," Mr. Orfield said at a Washington news conference.

In 1970, the average Hispanic student in the United States attended a school where 43.8 percent of the students were white, the report said. By 1988, only 32 percent of the average Hispanic student's schoolmates were white, the report said.

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