Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mapping Segregation in American Schools

Schools in the southern states of America are as segregated now as they were 50 years ago. However it isn't just the southern states where schools are segregated along racial lines. Because of the residential segregation that exists in nearly every town and city the majority of black children in the USA end up attending schools where the majority of students are black and white children attend schools where the majority of students are white.

Back in 2015 the Tampa Bay Times visualized the segregation that exists in Pinellas County schools. In Why Pinellas County is the Worst Place to be Black and Attend Public School the newspaper explores the segregation in the county's schools and the result that this has had on the education of the county's black students.

As you progress through the Tampa Bay Times story map you are shown how the county's schools have become more segregated since Pinellas abandoned integration. In Failure Factories the newspaper goes on to show how as the schools became more segregated the district then began to fund the schools differently. In some years the schools with the highest percentage of black students got less money per student than other schools. The result is that black students in the county are more likely to receive a worse education than white students.

The segregation of American schools is a political decision. There is no good reason why schools are segregated and this segregation can be easily overcome if there is the political will to give all Americans equal educational opportunities.

In We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated Vox looks at how school districts can be gerrymandered to make them less segregated. The article includes a map tool which allows you to visualize how segregated schools currently are in your town. If you enter your school district into this tool you can view a choropleth map showing the percentage of students in each elementary school zone who were black or Hispanic in the 2013 school year.

The map allows you to view the current situation in your district using the current zoning regulations and compare this with how it would look if students were just assigned to their nearest school. Beneath the map you can see a graph which reveals if your local zoning regulations are lessening school segregation or making segregation worse.

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