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Report: Virginia's Schools More Segregated Than a Decade Ago

A recent report found that Virginia’s public schools are more segregated today than ten years ago. According to the report, students who are poor, black, and Latino in Virginia are increasingly isolated -- attending schools with other students like themselves.

Chris Duncombe is with The Commonwealth Institute. He analyzed state data on public schools.

“So we classified schools as either being high poverty or low poverty," Duncombe says. "And school divisions that have higher percentages of students of color, and school divisions with low percentages of students of color.”

Then, Duncombe counted up the schools that were  more than 75-percent black and Latino, and had high numbers of students who got free and reduced lunch. The total? 136. 

That’s a 60-percent jump from a decade ago.

“The big issue here is that efforts at the local school division level to really proactively balance and diversify schools have fallen off, so we know that this is a challenge but we’re not really working against it,” says Duncombe.

One way to work against it is to make cities and their suburbs one large school district, where students don’t necessarily go to the closest school.

Instead, students and their families would rank their top school choices and then school leaders would assign students based both on choice and efforts to diversify. 

Experts say regional school districts have worked in southern cities like Chattanooga, Charlotte, and Louisville.

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