The case for change
A group that has been tracking desegregation issues and public education in the United States since it was created in 1996, frames the issues clearly:
"Socioeconomic segregation is a stubborn, multidimensional and deeply important cause of educational inequality. Levels of segregation for black and Latino students have been steadily increasing since the l980s. The great majority of nonwhite students attend schools which now show substantial segregation. U.S. schools are now 41 percent nonwhite. Achievement scores are strongly linked to school racial composition and so is the presence of highly qualified and experienced teachers. The high level of poverty among children, together with many housing policies and practices which excludes poor people from most communities, mean that students in inner city schools face isolation not only from the white community but also from middle class schools."-The UCLA Civil Rights Project, formerly the Harvard Civil Rights Project
- National Graduation Rate: 68%
- Big City Graduation Rate: 52%
- Public education has dropped to 25th in world.
- First-graders in many cities enter school already one to two years behind their peers nationally.
- Only 12 percent of eighth graders in Washington, DC, read or calculate at grade level.
- In Detroit, 70 percent of high school students fail to graduate.
- In New York City, the graduation rate for African-American boys is a mere 28 percent.
- Half of the students entering California state institutions of higher education require significant remediation (and other systems report comparable statistics).
- Of the disproportionately small cohort of students of color entering higher education nationwide, six-year completion rates fall as low as 25 percent.
The figures are staggering, the implications profound.