Highlight

History and Background: Demographics & Diversity

Covering demographics and diversity in the P-12 school system requires a careful review of the history so reporters understand the totality of the landscape.

School Segregation

Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 made school segregation unconstitutional. But excellent reporting and research throughout the country shows that, in the past six decades, division among racial groups in our educational systems not only hasn’t been remedied — in many places, it has gotten worse.

A study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project and Penn State’s Center for Education and Civil Rights found Black and Latino students increasingly are attending schools that are mostly nonwhite. The share of intensely segregated schools, meaning those enrolling 90-100% nonwhite students, has more than tripled over the past three decades.

Segregated schools often are the outgrowth of residential segregation, prescribing which children attend which neighborhood schools. With property taxes comprising a major source of school funding, you can draw a straight line between segregation and unequal resources. A report from EdBuild shows white school districts receive $23 billion more than predominantly nonwhite districts, despite educating the same number of students.

New York has some of the most persistent problems. You might have seen Eliza Shapiro and Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times on ‘The Weekly,’ which you can watch here or on Hulu. An alliance of civil rights groups sued New Jersey in 2018, calling for statewide desegregation and arguing the state’s laws engender de facto school segregation. That suit is pending as of April 2020.

Reporting tip: If you investigate school segregation in your area, do not overlook how these factors play out in urban versus rural school districts. If your coverage area has any selective admission K-12 schools, there’s a potential story there about what the student experience is like for members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 made school segregation unconstitutional. But excellent reporting and research throughout the country shows that, in the past six decades, division among racial groups in our educational systems not only hasn’t been remedied — in many places, it has gotten worse.

A study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project and Penn State’s Center for Education and Civil Rights found Black and Latino students increasingly are attending schools that are mostly nonwhite. The share of intensely segregated schools, meaning those enrolling 90-100% nonwhite students, has more than tripled over the past three decades.

Segregated schools often are the outgrowth of residential segregation, prescribing which children attend which neighborhood schools. With property taxes comprising a major source of school funding, you can draw a straight line between segregation and unequal resources. A report from EdBuild shows white school districts receive $23 billion more than predominantly nonwhite districts, despite educating the same number of students.

New York has some of the most persistent problems. You might have seen Eliza Shapiro and Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times on ‘The Weekly,’ which you can watch here or on Hulu. An alliance of civil rights groups sued New Jersey in 2018, calling for statewide desegregation and arguing the state’s laws engender de facto school segregation. That suit is pending as of April 2020.

Reporting tip: If you investigate school segregation in your area, do not overlook how these factors play out in urban versus rural school districts. If your coverage area has any selective admission K-12 schools, there’s a potential story there about what the student experience is like for members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 made school segregation unconstitutional. But excellent reporting and research throughout the country shows that, in the past six decades, division among racial groups in our educational systems not only hasn’t been remedied — in many places, it has gotten worse.

A study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project and Penn State’s Center for Education and Civil Rights found Black and Latino students increasingly are attending schools that are mostly nonwhite. The share of intensely segregated schools, meaning those enrolling 90-100% nonwhite students, has more than tripled over the past three decades.

Segregated schools often are the outgrowth of residential segregation, prescribing which children attend which neighborhood schools. With property taxes comprising a major source of school funding, you can draw a straight line between segregation and unequal resources. A report from EdBuild shows white school districts receive $23 billion more than predominantly nonwhite districts, despite educating the same number of students.

New York has some of the most persistent problems. You might have seen Eliza Shapiro and Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times on ‘The Weekly,’ which you can watch here or on Hulu. An alliance of civil rights groups sued New Jersey in 2018, calling for statewide desegregation and arguing the state’s laws engender de facto school segregation. That suit is pending as of April 2020.

Reporting tip: If you investigate school segregation in your area, do not overlook how these factors play out in urban versus rural school districts. If your coverage area has any selective admission K-12 schools, there’s a potential story there about what the student experience is like for members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Racism and Race Relations

The dynamics of segregation and selective enrollment prompt questions about the environment being created inside school halls.

Students of color are publicly articulating the struggle of being “othered” in high-achieving environments and urging leaders to act in defense of marginalized students.

Black students at the University of Chicago Laboratory High School wrote an open letter in 2020 lambasting racism and bias at the Hyde Park campus. Students at the all-boys Collegiate School in New York did the same in 2019, detailing the often humiliating experiences of students of color not only within their own school but also at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn and Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.

Eliza Shapiro at The New York Times can be a guide to this type of coverage, as she is tracking admissions for the ultra-competitive Stuyvesant High School in New York City.

Reporting tip: The student experience of any vulnerable or marginalized group at school is a worthwhile story. It does not necessarily have to fall along color lines. Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ students all are vulnerable to bullying, isolation and discriminatory treatment. Beyond exposes about student experiences, it is just as valuable to examine how administrators and teachers respond to and try to eliminate acts of bigotry within their schools

 

READ MORE ON DEMOGRAPHICS AND DIVERSITY:

Data/Research: Demographics & Diversity

Demographics & Diversity in Higher Education

Student Debt and Race

EWA Reporter Guide for Inclusive Coverage