When Weather and School Segregation Collide

WHEN A MAJOR WINTER storm ripped across the South over the weekend, dumping nearly a foot of snow in parts of North Carolina and prompting some school systems to cancel classes Monday, it sparked a public debate about school segregation.

“Long thread about our countywide school system and inclement weather,” Wake County schools posted to Twitter Sunday afternoon. “Grab a mug of hot chocolate and listen in.”

What came next was a long explanation-cum-history lesson about Wake County schools’ integration efforts: “Most importantly, there is a very, very, very important reason why our school system is countywide,” Wake County schools posted to Twitter. “It’s the foundation of our success as a community. It is the reason our community has prospered. It’s why our taxes are low. It’s what attracted many of you to move here. It is why all of our schools are good schools.”

The thread was a response to someone on Twitter who, in reacting to a Wake County science teacher’s tweet about the possibility of school being canceled Monday, argued there should be two separate school systems in Wake County because the weather impacts parts of the county differently.

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Evenness vs. Isolation in Schools

HAVE U.S. SCHOOLS become more racially segregated in the past two decades? It should seem a simple question to answer, based on the racial composition of schools then and now. But it’s a raging debate among academics, journalists and policy advocates. It turns out that there are different ways to measure segregation or racial diversity and the different measures can sometimes point in opposite directions.

Consider the city of Providence, R.I. In 2000, just over a third, or 36 percent of the district’s 55 public schools were at least 90 percent minority – black, Hispanic or Asian. Fifteen years later, almost three quarters, or 74 percent, of the schools were 90 percent or more non-white. At first glance, that might look like a dramatic resegregation. It was the biggest jump in non-white schools of any district in the nation, according to Meredith Richards, an expert in school segregation at Southern Methodist University, who calculated these figures for The Hechinger Report.

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New Culprit in School Segregation? Private Schools

The District of Columbia’s public school system has garnered praise for being one of the fastest improving in the country, but it’s also known for being one of the more segregated.

Now, new research from the Albert Shanker Institute that analyzes segregation of children in D.C. suggests a culprit not typically considered a major factor: private schools.

“In a very loose sense,” researchers said, “D.C.’s private schools serve as the segregation equivalent of a suburb within the city.”

During the 2011-12 school year, private schools, the researchers found, served only 15 percent of the city’s students but almost 60 percent of its white students.

Full story at US News