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New GAO Report Finds U.S. Public Schools becoming Re-segregated by Race and Income

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a national report on racial and economic isolation in public schools. Released on the 62ndanniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, the report finds that from 2001-2014, the percent of African-American and Latino students attending high-poverty and racially isolated schools increased by 11 percent. Findings reveal a retreat from racial equity goals, jeopardizing the access of millions of students of color to a high-quality education. In response, the national civil rights and racial justice group, Advancement Project and Journey for Justice, a national grassroots coalition, released the following statement:

“When it comes to racial equity in public education, we are fundamentally headed in the wrong direction,” said Jitu Brown, National Director of Journey for Justice. “The GAO’s report clearly shows that the ability of African-American and Latino students to access a diverse, high-quality public education is declining and that decline is fueled by the increasing privatization of our public schools. If we fail to turn the tide on this disturbing trend, our Black and Brown students will continue to be subjected to Jim Crow-like public education where they are expected to perform at high levels but with a fraction of the resources.”

The GAO’s analysis of civil rights data from the U.S. Department of Education over a 13-year period (2001-2014), reveals the percent of African-American students attending high-poverty and high student of color schools increased from 26 to 37 percent. Latino students attending high-poverty and high student of color schools increased from 29 to 40 percent.

“Increasingly separate and unequal schools should be an alarm to everyone, not just the parents and allies of African-American and Latino students,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project. “If we continue to allow broad swaths of our nation’s students of color to attend schools with less experienced teachers, disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion, and fewer advanced classes and support services, we will further perpetuate the second class citizenship we have fought so hard to overcome.”

“This research reflects a sad reality: the color of your skin is more likely to determine whether you have access to a high-quality, well-resourced and diverse public school,” said Dianis.

“Unfortunately, American school systems have tried everything but equity. Our schools have been closed, given to private operators and segregation has increased. As taxpayers, we have a right to high quality, well-resourced schools within walking distance of our homes. In 2016 we should not have to protest, take arrest and put our lives on the line for our children to have access to world class schools which other children receive at birth.” said Jitu Brown.

Students of color now constitute the majority of students enrolled at K-12 public schools, surpassing the number of non-Hispanic Whites.

“It is a moral imperative that we provide all students with a quality education, regardless of their race or socio-economic status,” said Browne Dianis “Remaining complacent in the face of increasing racial disparities in education conveys that we are content with inequality. Students, families, and advocates must urge policymakers and local schools districts to recommit to reducing racial isolation. We must hold policymakers accountable to implement strategies that reflect our values and growing commitment to the success of every child”


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