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Inequity in Austin Schools

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The Daily Texan, the official newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin, has a very interesting report on the end of forced busing of Austin students from predominantly white schools to predominantly black and Hispanic ones, and the correlative re-segregation that has occurred. In addition to a decrease in white enrollment, these predominantly minority schools have witnessed declining test scores. One part of the article jumped out at me:

High minority enrollment often correlates with high concentrations of students below the poverty line, said Orfield, the author of reports on inequality in education. Poor students often score low on standardized tests, Orfield added. The high-poverty schools often have less experienced teachers, lower levels of peer group competition and less challenging curriculums, he said.

Between 75 percent and 80 percent of students at Austin's most racially isolated high schools - Reagan, Travis, Lanier and Johnston - are considered economically disadvantaged, according to TEA statistics.

"One of the common misconceptions over the issue of re-segregation of schools is that many people treat it as simply a change in the skin color of the students in a school," Orfield said. "If skin color were not systematically linked to other forms of inequality, it would, of course, be of little significance for educational policy."

It is all too easy to look at underachieving predominantly minority schools and presume that the problem is simply of a racial nature. But one must also consider the academic troubles of rural schools, many of which have large white populations. The common denominator between these two types of schools is that both usually serve students in poverty-stricken families. And, as the article goes on to explain, these schools must deal with the stigmas that often accompany a high-poverty student enrollment: more focus required on special needs and language services, and less social capital provided by parents.

The Texas Legislature will come together in a special session in a few months to rework the way we finance our schools, the current method having been declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. Beyond school funding, what can be done to help these high poverty schools? Should mandated busing be reinstated? Is there another student blending mechanism that is more appealing to parents? Or should we look beyond simply moving kids around?

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Inequity in Austin Schools

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Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factcouraud. (2007, May 22). Inequity in Austin Schools. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/English/introduction-to-writing-academic-prose/inequity-in-austin-schools.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License