RALEIGH (December 20, 2022) – The latest report from the Education & Law Project at the North Carolina Justice Center provides an update on school segregation trends and new policy recommendations to foster integration in North Carolina’s public schools. A follow-up to a 2018 report, Still Stymied finds North Carolina schools have made little progress in integrating and face a continued racial and economic divide, exacerbated by charter schools, district boundaries, and inaction from school districts and state policymakers.
Despite research showing that school integration increases health benefits, promotes cross-cultural understanding and civic engagement, and boosts social mobility through fostering cross-class connections, North Carolina’s public school segregation remains an urgent issue. For example, in the 2021-2022 school year, in 27 percent of North Carolina’s public schools, at least 75 percent of the students were students of color.
“As we continue to debate how to meet students’ constitutional rights to a sound basic education, school integration has been pushed to the wayside,” said Kris Nordstrom, Senior Policy Analyst with the North Carolina Justice Center’s Education & Law Project. “Yet school integration is complimentary to the Leandro Plan and policies that foster integration will help more students flourish.”
A new feature of this report are first-of-its-kind measures of racial segregation at the individual school level. This interactive tool allows users to look at every North Carolina public school and see the extent to which any individual school’s demographics differ from the larger district or county, a statistic known as a disproportionality score. The tool can help policymakers and advocates more accurately identify local opportunities for school integration.
Despite the challenges highlighted in Still Stymied, there are a number of policy recommendations that could increase integration in North Carolina’s public schools:
- Implementing the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan so that all schools are adequately funded
- Providing transportation grants for districts implementing income-based student attendance policies or controlled choice assignment plans
- Overhauling the state’s racist and classist school performance grade system
- Providing technical support to districts and charter schools exploring integration strategies
- Capping enrollment in charter schools
- Revoking the charters of white flight charter schools