What does segregation say about community values?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the United States is more diverse than ever, many communities and schools remain segregated. Unlike the 1950s and 1960s, when segregation in many southern communities was the law (referred to as "de jure segregation"), today's segregation is de facto, meaning it occurs by fact. According to a study conducted by the Civil Rights Project in 2012 (see the link below), 43% of Latinos and 38% of African-Americans attend schools in which less than 10% of the students are white.

This type of de facto segregation suggests that many communities are not invested in appreciating and encouraging diversity, but it is also a reflection of the values of our educational system. Many people, for example, choose schools that are reportedly performing better on standardized tests rather than choosing schools that have diverse populations. As poorer schools often have a hard time raising their scores on standardized tests, these choices have a cyclical effect--poorer schools tend to attract poorer, more diverse students, while higher-performing schools tend to attract wealthier, less diverse students. Educational policies tend to reinforce segregation. Therefore, segregation in communities can reflect deeply entrenched beliefs about encouraging sameness and avoiding diversity, and it can also be a reflection of the ways in which educational policies reinforce these ideas. 

Read the study guide:
Eyes on the Prize

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