Almost sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, many poor and minority children still attend segregated schools. How crippling is such isolation? In particular, what’s the evidence that poor kids perform better in integrated schools?
It’s just as crippling as it was sixty years ago. Some recent research from Caroline Hoxby, Rick Hanushek, and others shows that racially isolated classrooms are really bad for minority kids, especially African-American males. No one knows why for sure, but “separate but equal” is still a major problem. That said, some of the schools garnering the best results for poor and minority kids are racially isolated, such as many “no excuses” charter schools. So it’s not impossible to make racially and socioeconomically isolated schools work, but we’d be better off if we didn’t have to.