Published on Friday, May 19, 2000 by the BBC
Re-Segregation Under Way; US Schools Are More Racially Divided Than Ever
Five decades after racial segregation was abolished in schools in the United States, there are accusations that schools are becoming more racially divided than ever.

Professor Gary Orfield of Harvard University has told the National Education Association that "re-segregation" was a growing trend.

Research into patterns of school enrolment showed that black, Hispanic and white pupils are increasingly likely to be attending separate schools.

"The rise of segregation is a peril to opportunity in this society," said Professor Orfield, who called for greater efforts for racial integration.

In particular, Hispanic youngsters were found to be unlikely to be attending mixed schools.

"Latinos experience more segregation than blacks in the deep south,'' said Professor Orfield.

Detailing the current extent of voluntary segregation in US schools, research from Harvard-based civil rights project shows that 75% of Hispanic young people attend schools in which they are a large majority.

Among black pupils, 69% were found to be attending schools in which black pupils were a majority. And among white pupils, a majority were in schools with over 80% white pupils.

In 1954, a Supreme Court ruling saw the beginning of a programme of "desegregation", in which it was intended that all public schools would teach pupils of all races.

But Professor Orfield says that since the 1960s a pattern has emerged of schools tending to serve narrower racial communities.

This has been caused by changes in the local community - such as the drift of white families from the cities to the suburbs - rather than any changes in school policy.