School segregation remains a reality: “74 percent of African Americans still attend majority nonwhite schools, compared to just over 76 percent in the late 1960s,” writes The Nation‘s Greg Kauffman.
But there’s a demographic reality to consider, responds Matthew Yglesias in Slate. U.S. schools are running low on white kids.
Non-Hispanic whites were 54 percent of the under-18 population in 2010, compared to 74 percent in 1980, according to the Census Bureau. Furthermore, among kids under the age of 5, non-Hispanic whites are a minority.
Meanwhile, the white people are not distributed evenly across the country. You’re not going urban minority kids to Maine and Idaho or the Texas panhandle so that they can attend more integrated schools. Nor are we about to ban the practice of rich people (who are disproportionately white) from sending their kids to private schools.
So you’re going to face a situation where most schools are majority-minority and the vast majority of minority kids are in majority-minority schools and there’s not going to be anything you can do about it other than try to make those schools be really good schools.
We can’t integrate our way to better school performance, agrees Sara Mead. That includes socio-economic integration, the dream of “smart liberal school reformers in recent years.” Like whites, middle-class students from two-parent families are in short supply and not evenly distributed.
The challenge is to design schools to meet the needs of low-income, minority students. The no-excuses model adopted by some urban charter (and Catholic) schools can make a difference. Are there other models with evidence of success?