Addressing School Segregation in New York



A recent report by University of California, Los Angeles’ The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles explains that the state of New York has the United States’ most segregated schools.  Within the state, New York City has one of the most segregated school systems with Black and Latino students experiencing the least amount of diversity in schools where they are the majority.  Only about 10% of majority Black and Latino schools in New York City have white students in their population.  A Huffington Post article notes that 19 of New York City’s 32 school community districts have student populations of less than 10%.   Also, as New York City’s demographics change, school choice programs and policies magnify the problem of racially segregated schools.

About 40 years ago, between changing laws and a community push for change, desegregation of New York schools became a focused effort.  Although some of those efforts yielded changes, the goal to desegregate schools progressively faded as other initiatives related to school choice, charter schools, and accountability systems became key.  Unfortunately, some of the attempts to address school segregations continue to be thwarted by issues such as the following:

  • Residential patterns
  • Lack of commitment
  • Market-oriented framework
  • School policy reversals

Advocating for school integration is still a worthwhile cause because of the prospect of a brighter future with regard to finances and health.  Moreover, the social benefits of pushing for school integration are great in that interaction with other races teaches tolerance and encourages better interracial interactions, diminishing the likelihood of prejudice in the future.


Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School



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