A new study by the University of California’s Civil Rights Project has found that despite rhetoric–particularly around Obama’s campaign–about racial equality in the United States, the United States is actually moving backwards in many respects on key measures of racial equality.
The study–Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge–finds that:
“the U.S. continues to move backward toward increasing minority segregation in highly unequal schools; the job situation remains especially bleak for American blacks, and Latinos have a college completion rate that is shockingly low. At the same time, very little is being done to address large scale challenges such as continuing discrimination in the housing and home finance markets, among other differences across racial lines.”
The Civil Rights Project has previously issued several reports on the integration of the public schools. It has found that in the decades since Brown vs. the Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, gains have slowly been undone to the point where segregation is now growing each year. The study reports that 40% of African-Americans and 39% of Latinos now attend “intensely segregated schools.” The average African-American and Latino student also attends schools where nearly 60% of students are at or below the poverty line.
The report finds that suburban schools are also highly segregated, with the majority of suburban students attending schools that are 80% white.
At the same time, the study also reports that there is “almost no enforcement” of the Fair Housing Act and few penalties leveled for housing discrimination, which plays an important role in maintaining segregated schools.
The report concludes that the “separate but equal” approach that the government has returned to since abandoning serious efforts to integrate public schools has failed. Moreover, the report argues that new measures–such as No Child Left Behind–have failed and unduly targeted schools serving communities of color with sanctions while failing to give them the resources they need.
The report calls on the incoming Obama administration to make “the first serious commitment” to integrating the public schools since the Lyndon Johnson presidency.