Separate and unequal

Minnesota’s public schools are increasingly segregated.
By
  • Editorial board
January 22, 2013

Despite the amount of attention from elected officials and the media, no one has been able to make much headway in solving the state’s persistent achievement gap.

However, a new study by the University of Minnesota shed light on another concerning trend in Twin Cities schools. Earlier this month, the study found that more white students are leaving racially diverse school districts to enroll in schools located in predominately white districts, according to MinnPost.

This trend results in a more segregated school environment and perhaps plays a role in the stark difference between the academic performances of white and minority students in the state. Much like the achievement gap itself, the racial segregation that occurs from the freedom of open enrollment is a problem everyone agrees must be solved but has few easy solutions. It’s clear that the root causes go much deeper than the existence of the open enrollment policy itself, though it may be imperfect.

The problem can be traced to the vast differences and inequality among public schools, particularly  in the urban districts of Minneapolis and St. Paul and those outside of the cities. The study showed that these urban districts have lost “substantial numbers of students,” the majority of them being white.

There is no simple way for teachers, administrators and legislators to ensure every public school remains at a high enough level so parents do not feel the need to send their students to schools in other districts. However, the inequality within the public school system is an important enough issue that people at every level should get involved to find a solution.

Diversity can be a great asset in the education of Minnesota’s youth, and it’s important we work to maintain high standards for all schools to reverse this trend of segregation.

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