Two new reports suggest Virginia schools are increasingly segregated by race and economic status. For many kids that means less access to educational opportunities.
Segregation of Virginia schools is apparent in some places, but VCU Professor Genevieve Siegel-Haweley says it’s not so obvious in schools with a diverse student population. “One way to understand the extent to which kids were segregated within school buildings was to look at access by race, ethnicity and economic status to advanced placement courses.”
She and colleagues at Penn State found black students were the least likely to be included in AP classes, although those college level courses are also lacking in many rural districts where most kids are white. Siegel-Hawley says those students miss out on learning and the chance to boost their grade point average before applying to college, but she says wealthy white and Asian students may also suffer.
“It’s really easy in those settings to develop a warped understanding of how our society actually works or how severe economic opportunity and racial inequality is within the society,: Siegel-Hawley says. "And that makes it difficult to participate as an informed citizen.”
And, she says, employers and colleges are looking for employees and students who know how to work with people from various backgrounds – something students from segregated schools may not learn how to do. “Higher ed and businesses increasingly are looking for students and workers who know how to work across lines of difference, and it’s really hard to prepare kids for that reality in segregated schools.”