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A Times Editorial

Editorial: For better or worse, Florida schools reflect segregated neighborhoods

Florida's public school enrollment grows more diverse by the day, and yet schools are increasingly more segregated. A recent study by the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University depicts a public school system where minority students are much more likely to be in a classroom that does not reflect the state's diversity. That's not healthy for the future of Florida or the students.

Some of this can be traced to population trends. In 1976, white children accounted for 70 percent of public school students in Florida. By 2014, white children were 40 percent. The portion of black children has decreased slightly (22.9 percent to 22.3 percent), but the Hispanic population has exploded. Hispanic children made up 6.5 percent of the public school system in Florida in 1976, but in 2014 they accounted for 30.9 percent of classroom seats, a nearly fivefold increase.

Despite this multicultural landscape, housing patterns and court rulings that put an end to the era of busing for desegregation have turned many schools into miniature versions of segregated neighborhoods. More than 700 schools in the state have student populations that are 90 percent or more minority.

A doubling of segregated schools in Florida

10.6% . 20.2 %

In 1994, roughly one out of every 10 public schools in Florida had a student population that was 90 percent or more nonwhite. By 2014, the percentage was 20.2, or one out of every five schools.

Hillsborough and Pinellas student population

National Hillsborough Pinellas
White 49.3 33.5 55.9
Black 15.3 21.1 18.6
Hispanic 25.9 35.2 16.4

Pinellas and Hillsborough are completely different districts when it comes to the makeup of schools. Pinellas schools have a greater portion of white students than the national average, while Hispanic children now outnumber white children in Hillsborough schools.

Portion of charter school enrollment that is white

Florida Pinellas

35.1% 68.2%

In Florida, just 35.1 percent of charter school students are white while 39.7 percent are Hispanic. That trend does not extend to Pinellas County, where the portion of students in charter schools who are white is nearly double the state average, at 68.2 percent.

Fewer all-white schools

18.4% . 41.0%

While many more schools are now almost exclusively filled with minorities, fewer schools are all-white. In 1994, only 18.4 percent of white students in Florida attended a multiracial school, which is defined by having at least 10 percent of three or more racial/ethnic groups. By 2014, 41 percent of white students attended multiracial schools.

Editorial: For better or worse, Florida schools reflect segregated neighborhoods 10/09/17 [Last modified: Monday, October 9, 2017 3:07pm]
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