The U.S. student body is more diverse than ever before. Nevertheless, public schools remain highly segregated along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines.
According to a new 45-page report from the Government Accountability Office, (GAO) between 2020 and 2021, more than one-third of the country’s student population — attended a school where 75 percent or more of the student body were of a single race or ethnicity.
These divisions span school types, regions, and community types (urban, suburban, and rural), the report says.
Nearly half of all American white students attend a school where 75% of the student body is made up of their own race according to the GAO. Further, 10 years of analysis found that when schools sever ties with an existing district to form a new district—those new districts had, on average, roughly triple the share of white students, double the share of Asian students, two-thirds the share of Hispanic students, and one-fifth the share of Black students.
Moreover, the number of students who were eligible for free or reduced student lunch was half of that of the past District indicating disparity related to race and class.
The GAO reported that the study was conducted to examine discriminatory practices in K-12 education, they noted that students who are poor, Black, and Hispanic generally attend schools with fewer resources and worse outcomes. Those statistics are driven in part because public education is partially funded by local property tax revenues and there remains a pervasive wealth, income, and homeownership gap in the U.S driven by historical and systemic factors like disinvestment and redlining.
“It is widely recognized that a history of discriminatory practices has contributed to inequities in education, which are intertwined with disparities in wealth, income, and housing,” the report reads. “The legacy of federal housing policies such as ‘red-lining’—a form of illegal disparate treatment—has contributed to racial, ethnic, and economic segregation, which, in turn, has contributed to disparities in education and wealth.”