Segregation and school district secession

A new study shows that school segregation is on the rise in counties that have experienced school district secession, through which new school districts were established in predominantly White communities. Researchers examined school and residential segregation in seven southern counties: Jefferson, Marshall, Mobile, Montgomery, and Shelby Counties in Alabama; East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana; and Shelby County, Tennessee.

In all of these counties, the amount of school segregation due to school district boundaries has increased, an increase that grew as more districts seceded. The new districts that broke off from the larger county districts reported higher percentages of White students than the county districts, which had a higher percentage of Black and Hispanic students. By 2015, school districts within counties were, on average, 25.4% less diverse than the counties as a whole, and schools in the counties were, on average, 39.8% less diverse than the overall student population in the county.

Secession in the South has tended to occur in areas where there are fewer White students (roughly 33%) than in the South as a whole (43%), which suggests as counties become more diverse, the desire for White parents to establish their own districts increases.

Source: Taylor, K., Frankenberg, E., & Siegel-Hawley. (2019). Racial segregation in the Southern schools, school districts, and counties where districts have seceded. AERA Open, 5 (3), 1-16.

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