Study: Florida public schools increasingly segregated

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Posted at 6:50 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 14:52:19-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Florida public schools have become more segregated while the state has become more diverse, a new study found.

The LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) released its report, Patterns of Resegregation in Florida's Schools, at a Separate is Not Equal Conference on Wednesday.

The report analyzes the enrollment changes and segregation trends since 1994 in Florida public schools and charter schools.

"Florida is the third-largest state in the country and has the most diverse student body in our state’s history," said Dr. Carol Weissert, the LCI director and a Florida State University political science professor, "yet one-fifth of our public schools are intensely segregated."

Weissert said all Floridians deserve equal access to a quality education, regardless of race or economic standing. "We hope this report encourages additional dialogue and helps chart future actions on this important subject," Weissert said.

The report said the percentage of intensely segregated schools (those with 90-100 percent non-white students) doubled over the past two decades to 20 percent of Florida schools.

"Similarly, double segregation – segregation by both race and poverty – is increasing in Florida," said the report, according to an LCI news release.

"Low-income students are likely to be in highly segregated schools: Some 83 percent of low-income students are in intensely segregated schools. Intergroup contact is limited, meaning students of color or living in poverty are less likely to be exposed to white middle-class students, and vice versa."

The report finds: 

  • Florida experienced a rapid increase in the enrollment of Hispanic students over the past three decades, while the proportion of white students dropped dramatically.
  • During the same period, the black share remained the same and the Asian share increased slightly. But enrollment trends in Florida’s public schools do not reflect these demographic changes.
  • More than one-third of Hispanic students and one-third of black students attend an intensely segregated K-12 school in Florida.
  • Highly segregated schools are found in metropolitan urban areas of Florida, with the highest concentration in Miami and other segregated schools in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
  • Black and Hispanic students are more likely to attend school with students living in poverty than white and Asian students.
  • Charter schools and public schools are similar in terms of racial makeup, but charter schools tend to enroll more Hispanic students and fewer white students when compared to public schools.

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