Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latino Students in Virginia Often Attend Segregated Schools

A new study finds that Latino students are becoming more segregated in Virginia schools–particularly in the northern part of the state where they are the largest minority group.

According to the study by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Northern Virginia is the only part of the state where Latino students are more segregated than black students.

“Despite Virginia’s long history with school desegregation, little political attention has been paid to the growing multi-racial diversity of the state’s enrollment and rising levels of isolation for its black and Latino students,” the report says.

The report examined data from the National Center for Education Statistics between 1989 and 2010, and found the following about school enrollments in 2010:

- About 6% of the state’s Latino students attended schools where white students make up less than 10% of the enrollment.

- Despite segregation, schools are also becoming increasingly diverse as well. In 2010, more than 60% of Latino students attended a multiracial school where three or more racial groups made up at least 10% of the enrollment. It was a dramatic increase from 1989, when the rate was 10%.

- The typical Latino student attended a school where low-income students made up about 41% of students.

The study breaks out numbers depending on the region of the state- Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, Richmond-Petersburg and Northern Virginia. The report makes various suggestions as to how the state can increase integration, including using magnet schools to promote more racial integration and avoiding rezoning policies that increase racial isolation.

Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project, called attention to the need for the state to adjust to its changing demographics.

“Though many racial issues remain unsettled for black students, Virginia now faces another kind of change as it becomes a truly multiracial state, which poses a different set of risks and opportunities,” Orfield said. “Leaders need the vision to renew efforts to achieve justice and integration for blacks and to be sure that the growing Latino communities are not locked into segregation and inequality.”