May 17, 2024 - News

Suburban schools becoming less white

Illustration of a classroom full of desks with half of them in black and white and half in color

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 70 years ago today, in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, that separating children in public schools on the basis of race was unconstitutional.

  • But American public schools are growing more separate and unequal in areas once seen as havens for integration, according to a UCLA Civil Rights Project report.

Why it matters: The disparities show resegregation has emerged almost everywhere, including in North Texas.

  • And, there has been almost no public policy response as segregated schools battle limited resources and more teacher shortages than predominantly white schools.

The big picture: Over the last decade, the number of intensely segregated school districts — defined as districts that are 90%-100% nonwhite students — has doubled in the nation's largest 25 suburban areas, UCLA researchers found.

State of play: Some suburban districts in North Texas have seen rising levels of segregation over the past three decades, including Arlington, Irving, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Richardson and Lewisville ISDs, per an analysis by Stanford University and the University of Southern California.

Case in point: In 1991, the student enrollment at McCoy Elementary in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD was 84% white, 5% Black and 4% Latino.

  • In 2022, the district's student enrollment was less than 19% white and 75% students of color.
Choropleth map of Texas counties showing the estimated level of segregation between Hispanic and white students in K-12 public schools. Castro County in northern Texas had the highest segregation, with an index value of 0.59 out of 1. Counties in the eastern part of the state tended to have higher segregation than counties in the south.
Data: Stanford Education Data Archive; Note: Index ranges from 0 to 1, where 0 implies no segregation (all schools have identical proportions of Hispanic and white students) while 1 implies complete segregation (no Hispanic student attends a school with any white students, and vice versa); Map: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: Student enrollment in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro's urban districts was 19% white, 53% Latino, 21% Black and 5% Asian in 2010-11.

  • In the suburban districts, it was 47% white, 29% Latino, 15% Black and 6% Asian.
  • By 2019-20, the suburban districts were 38% white, 33% Latino, 16% Black and 9% Asian.

Between the lines: The region and the state continue to diversify amid a population boom.

  • The Hispanic population in the Dallas area more than doubled between 2000 and 2022. There was a 90% increase in the Black population.
  • Hispanic Texans now make up the largest share of the Texas population, and non-Hispanic white residents make up less than 40% of the population.

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