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Studies on School Segregation Highlight Challenges of Housing, Economics

The Commonwealth Institute

Forced racial segregation of public schools ended decades ago in Virginia.

But new studies show Virginia schools remain segregated today.

Roanoke has the highest level of racially segregated schools in Virginia, followed by Richmond, Harrisonburg and Hampton Roads. That's according to a new report from the Commonwealth Institute, which concludes that racial segregation remains a challenge for Virginia long after the era of Massive Resistance to integration.

"Exclusionary racist housing policy has set the stage for fundamentally unequal schooling because what school someone goes to and how well resourced it is depends on their neighborhood," says Kathy Mendes, a researcher at the Commonwealth Institute.

So what can be done about it? "One of the ways that we could encourage and foster diverse learning environments is rewarding those schools that have created racially diverse schools and socioeconomically diverse schools in the accreditation process," says Chris Duncome, policy director at the Commonwealth Institute. "That's something that the Board of Education could lead."

Read the full report here

This isn't the only report detailing the lingering problem of segregation in Virginia schools. A recent report from Virginia Commonwealth University also pointed out similar findings, underscoring a sense of urgency for lawmakers as they prepare for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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