Things That Matter

Latino Students Are Being Put Into School With Fewer White Students And That Often Means Schools With Fewer Resources

If you’ve been paying attention to the Democratic debates, you might be feeling some type of way about CNN’s repeated taking to task of Vice President Joe Biden for voting against busing to desegregate public schools in the 1970s. Some feel frustrated to hear this issue be brought up. One Twitter user lamented. “Good grief. Enough about busing. Focus people. We have a corrupt, racist criminal in the White House. Stop helping him.”

Meanwhile, Latinx journalists like Yamiche Alcindor are wondering out loud, “Why are we talking about busing 50 years ago when schools are segregated today? We need a conversation about what is happening now.” The research from three universities definitively conclude that Latino students in California public schools are more racially segregated from white peers than any other state. In fact, it’s only “intensifying.”

Last week, University of California Berkley released a study that concluded that, nationwide, Latino children are likely to enter elementary schools with fewer white peers than a generation ago.

@educationweek / Twitter

The definition of segregation in the case of the study isn’t by individual race or ethnicity, but rather by the obvious educational and funding benefits that white students receive over black and brown students. The authors of the research report that this matters because “”racially segregating students of color … often corresponds with unfair financing of schools, regressive allocation of quality teachers and culturally limited curricula.” It benefits minority students to be integrated with a white majority (read: better funded) school. 

In 1998, the average Latino student in elementary school found themselves in a student body where 40% of the students were white. By 2015, that number dropped to 30%, even though the population of Latinos in this country has skyrocketed.

The numbers just become drastically worse in urban areas.

@FDCSD / Twitter

Again, the problem isn’t inherent in a black and brown student body. It’s systematic racism that determines that implicitly implies that the more white students in the classroom, the better the funding and, therefore, education is going to be for everyone. Research shows that black students who attend integrated schools have higher rates of earning bachelor’s degrees and higher wages overall compared to black students who are effectively segregated.

In urban areas across the country, the average Latino finds themselves in a student body that is just 5% white. That reinforces class lines and prevents the diversity of ideas to be spread across those very lines.

The good news is that Latina mothers are progressively becoming more educated.

@kayashley_x / Twitter

UC Berkley’s research team produced an in-depth report on the intersection of education and the Latino community, which includes the impacts of segregation and beyond. Bruce Fuller is the lead researcher and a professor of education and public policy at Berkley. Fuller is happy to report that his “Berkeley-led team found that college-going rates of Latina mothers have climbed steadily since 1998. These women show little hesitation to assimilate, while enriching their bilingual skills, then moving into better jobs and suburbs that host integrated schools.”

The seemingly largest factor in Latino children having a better education is a result of their parents becoming more and more educated.

@latimes / Twitter

The research confirms our own personal anecdotes. As Latinos finally enter the middle class, families are moving to middle class neighborhoods with schools that are just likelier to be more integrated. In an interview, Fuller says that as young Latino families become more educated, it “allows for movement into more economically-integrated communities. Now [these communities] might still be predominantly Latino, but at least we’re achieving economic integration for many, many Latino kids.”

“If we can get poor kids in the same classrooms as middle-class kids,” Fuller said, “we’re probably going to see stronger educational outcomes.”

*Shocking* research that bilingual skills offer higher pay is also motivating schools to implement dual-language campuses.

It doesn’t have to be Spanish either. According to Fuller, “One popular elementary school immerses students in classes taught in both Mandarin and English, starting in kindergarten. It’s a “microcosm of the world,” Principal Darlene Martin said.”

Fuller’s research compares the demographics of various counties across the U.S. and tries to understand what policies allow for greater racial integration. “Part of this stems from differing patterns of housing segregation,” he reports. “Still, educators differ in their will to build magnet schools and dual-language programs, which white parents find rigorous and attractive.”

Fuller wants to see political leaders explain “how they aim to bring the nation’s kaleidoscope of children under one roof.”

@13Who_Gaga / Twitter

Fuller concludes his research with this powerful statement: “Let’s look forward and build from what works, recognizing that nurturing mutual respect grows from tender mercies each day in classrooms, not from polarizing squabbles over the past.”

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