N.C. public schools resegregating, study finds

N.C. public schools resegregating, study finds
March 22
05:00 2018

There are more high poverty schools, containing more poor children of color, across North Carolina now, resulting in an alarming resegregation.

That is the contention in a new report, “Stymied by Segregation: How Integration Can Transform North Carolina Schools and the Lives of Its Students” by Kris Nordstrom, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center, a non-partisan progressive policy group.

According to the “Stymied by Segregation” report, school districts in New Hanover, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake counties, among others have the largest increase in income-based segregation.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg has the most racially segregated school district in North Carolina. Guilford and Forsyth counties are among the 10 most segregated school districts in the state.

The report analyzes the past 10 years on trends in public school segregation in North Carolina, and notes that the number of racially and economically isolated schools has increased; economic segregation is on the rise, even though the racial distribution in various school districts is mixed; larger school districts aren’t doing enough to integrate their schools; school district boundaries are still used to maintain segregated school systems; and charter schools tend to “exacerbate’ segregation.”

The report then states that the N.C. General Assembly  “… increasingly considers bills that would further exacerbate school segregation.”

One of those prospective measures, House Bill 704, is already being discussed by the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units. That committee held its first meeting March 13 to discuss the consequences of breaking up large school districts like Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and turning them into smaller ones.

While mostly Republican state lawmakers tried to make the case that smaller school districts would be better for North Carolina’s students, Sen. Joyce Waddell (D-Mecklenburg) weighed in to ask the obvious question that none of the Republicans broached.

“What measures do you have in place that would prevent [students of color from being harmed], that discriminatory factors would not be the major factors in North Carolina as we move forward to breaking up large school systems?” 

Indeed, many critics of the GOP efforts to even consider breaking up large school districts across the state suggest it’s a thinly disguised attempt at resegregation. “What measures do you have in place that would prevent that from happening, that discriminatory factors would not be the major factors in North Carolina as we move forward to breaking up large school systems?” asked outgoing state Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash).

According to the National Equity Atlas (NEA), “… one of every three students of color in North Carolina attends a high poverty school,” defined as “… schools in which 75 percent or more of the student body qualifies for federal free or reduced price lunch.” NEA goes on to state that “… concentrated high-poverty schools are often the result of economic and racial segregation.”

The expanding achievement gap between black and white students in North Carolina is seen as a direct result  of increasing segregation in the public schools.

“If we do not address the proliferation of high-poverty schools,” writes NEA author Brian Kennedy, “… many of our students will leave high school unprepared for post-secondary education and underqualified to participate in the workforce.”

In closing, the report, in promoting school integration, says, “The state’s public schools are becoming increasingly segregated by income, and while the trends in racial school segregation in North Carolina are mixed, the overall level of racial segregation remains far too high.”

The report can be found at

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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