A new study asserts that more than one third of African-American students in Southern states attend racially segregated schools.
The data also indicates the number of racial minorities attending segregated schools has increased since 1980.
On May 23, the Civil Rights Project of UCLA and the Center for Education and Civil Rights of Penn State University released a joint report of their combined study of student demographics in the South. The study found that in 2014, 36 percent of African American students in the South attended schools with student bodies that were 90 percent racial minorities or more, Mother Jones reports.
Comparing the report's findings to previous data, this figure indicated that the segregation of African American students in the South had increased by 56 percent since 1980, when only 23 percent attended schools with 90 percent black student bodies.
The report found that 42 percent of Hispanic students in the South attended racially segregated schools in 2014, up from 37 percent in 1980.
Overall, the study indicated that the average African American student in the South attended a school that was shared by only 27 percent white students. Inversely, the average white student in the South attended a school with a 15 percent black student body. The pattern suggested that since 1980, fewer students in the South were being exposed to peers from different racial groups.
There is a correlation between more integrated schools and greater student success. Studies indicate that students who attend socio-economically and racially-diverse schools are more likely to have higher test scores, less likely to dropout, more likely to enroll in college, exhibit less racial bias, feel more self-confident and have a reduced racial achievement gap, according to The Century Foundation.
The latest study found that 43 percent of Southern students were white, 27 percent were Hispanic and 24 percent were African American. The report also found that only 24 percent of Hispanic students and 27 percent of African American students in the South had exposure to white students. In 1980, 41 percent of African Americans in the South had exposure to white students, indicating a decline of 14 percentage points.
Associate professor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley of Virginia Commonwealth University, an author of the report, released a statement urging lawmakers in the South to adopt policies that would encourage greater racial integration in schools.
"Our lost progress on segregation for southern black students, and our failure to ever confront segregation for Southern Latino students, has to be a wakeup call for the region's leaders," Siegel-Hawley said on May 24, Mother Jones reports.