RICHMOND, VA – Diverse schools set the stage for better outcomes, in education and later in life, across the board. The widespread benefits for all students and especially students of color include higher academic achievement, increased likelihood of going to college, better workforce preparation, and an improved likelihood of students having the school resources that they need. But despite the increasing diversity of Virginia’s students overall, the latest data show that many students can’t access the benefits of diverse schools due to continued school segregation in Virginia, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, an economic and policy research organization in Richmond.
The report shows three alarming trends:
- Black and Latinx students are increasingly likely to attend schools that are almost entirely students of color and these schools have fewer resources and course offerings than schools with larger shares of white students.
- Black and Latinx students continue to attend schools with high levels of poverty compared to white students and the overall student body.
- School segregation has increased in many of Virginia’s metro areas. Metro areas with the highest levels of school segregation include Roanoke, Richmond, Harrisonburg, and Hampton Roads.
“Schooling segregation has been driven by more than a century of both overt and covert racist policies to deprive students of color, and Black students in particular, of learning opportunities,” says Kathy Mendes, research assistant at the Institute and primary author of the report. “Schools with high levels of poverty face challenges like resource scarcity, inadequately paid staff, and worsening school facilities. It’s Black and Latinx students across the state who end up feeling the impacts of those challenges and experience worse outcomes.”
The report reviews Virginia’s long history of passing policies that either created or sustained racial inequity — policies which have segregated schools and deprived communities of color of educational opportunities and resources.
There are several policy options available to stakeholders that can begin to counter that legacy and create more diverse school environments. The report recommends a mixture of local and regional integration policies, reforming the state’s primary school funding formula, and affordable housing policies, among other policies, in order to sever the link between housing and education segregation.
“While Brown v. Board may be thought of as the end of schooling segregation, the truth is that we are in another chapter in the fight against it,” says Ashley C. Kenneth, Senior Vice President at The Commonwealth Institute. “Students are living the legacy of both blatant and covert racist policy choices today. ‘Color-blind’ policies will not address the issue. It is going to take a system of intentional, actionable, and anti-racist policies to make high-quality, meaningfully diverse schools a reality for more than some.”
The full report, Modern-Day School Segregation: Addressing the Lasting Impacts of Racist Choices on Virginia’s Education System, is available online at www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org