Separate and Still Unequal

Blog | March 9 2016

by Janie Boschma

In a modern-day tale of two cities, in virtually every major U.S. metropolitan area students of color are much more likely than whites to attend public schools shaped by high concentrations of poverty, an analysis of federal data has found.

In all but five of the 95 largest cities by population for which data is available, more minority than white students attend public schools where most of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income, according to the analysis of data from the National Equity Atlas. In a full three-fourths of cities, the share of minority students attending mostly poor or low-income schools is at least 20 percentage points greater than the share of white students. In 29 of the cities, the gap is at least 40 percentage points.

Across a wide range of cities, the numbers point to a massive racial imbalance in exposure to concentrated poverty. In St. Louis, 92 percent of black, but only 27 percent of white, students attend schools where most of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income. In Dallas, 38 percent of white, compared to 95 percent of black and 97 percent of Latino students, attend mostly low-income schools. In Los Angeles, the numbers are 49 percent for whites, 85 percent for African Americans, and 96 percent for Latinos.  (read more)