Southern Schools Mark Two Majorities

Shaila Dewan, New York Times, January 7, 2010

The South has become the first region in the country where more than half of public school students are poor and more than half are members of minorities, according to a new report [to be released on Thursday by the Southern Education Foundation, a nonprofit group based here that supports education improvement in the region].

The shift was fueled {snip} [by] an influx of Latinos and other ethnic groups, the return of blacks to the South and higher birth rates among black and Latino families {snip}.

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{snip} Four of the 15 states in the report–Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas–now have a majority of both low-income and minority pupils. Only one, Virginia, has neither.

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More minority students in a district does not mean that classrooms are more integrated, said Richard Fry, a senior research associate with the Pew Hispanic Center, whose research shows that most white children in the South attend predominantly white schools and an even higher percentage of black and Hispanic children attend predominantly minority schools.

Southern schools are far more segregated now than they were at the height of integration in the ’70s and ’80s, a period that saw a narrowing of the achievement gap, said Gary Orfield, the co-director of The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at U.C.L.A. {snip}

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