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June 3, 2013

Racial segregation continues to impact quality of education in Mississippi--and nationwide

Alan Richard:

Debate is raging this year in Mississippi about whether state legislators should agree to start public pre-k programs for the first time. They're also arguing about school funding and charter schools.

In decades of debate on school reform in Mississippi, though, one issue is ever-present but draws little public discussion: race.

The state's public schools remain nearly as segregated, in some cases, as they did in the 1960s. In many communities across the state, especially in towns where black children are in the majority, white children almost exclusively attend small private schools founded around the time of court-mandated desegregation in the late 1960s.

Black children, by contrast, usually attend the public schools in these communities. This is also true in Jackson, the state capital. The consequences have been devastating for the state in terms of educational attainment and economic disparities.

White students are a minority in Mississippi's public schools: Only 44 percent of the students in the state who attended public schools in 2010 were white, compared with 51 percent of whom were black and 3 percent who were Hispanic (a growing population), according to the National Center for Education Statistics' annual Condition of Education report. This is one of the lowest percentages of white students attending public schools in the nation--and remember that the majority of Mississippi's population is white.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 3, 2013 2:04 AM
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