Study: American primary education is trending back toward segregation

A school bus.
(Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

As American children prepare to head back to school tomorrow, many of them will return to racially homogenous classrooms. A 2014 report found that 60 years after the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), segregation in American primary education — though certainly not at pre-Brown levels — has significantly increased since the 1980s, which generally marked the peak of integration.

Gary Orfield, a UCLA law professor who co-authored the study, says the findings of his report still hold true in 2015, and the long-term consequences of subpar education at majority-minority schools could be dire. "Let’s say your family’s poor, and then your chances of going to a really great state university are basically nonexistent," he explains. "If this is sustainable then it's incompatible with democracy, and spells disaster for the long run."

Schools that almost exclusively serve minority children tend to have "far fewer resources than most white-majority counterparts, leading to high teacher turnover, less experienced or qualified teachers, less structure, less attention, worse access to opportunities, and poorer grades," The Guardian reports. About two out of five African-American children attend schools that are less than 10 percent white.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.