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Article

Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education

Linda Darling-Hammond Sunday, March 1, 1998

E.B. DuBois was right about the problem of the 21st century. The color

line divides us still. In recent years, the most visible evidence of this in

the public policy arena has been the persistent attack on affirmative

action in higher education and employment. From the perspective of many Americans

who believe that the vestiges of discrimination have disappeared, affirmative action

now provides an unfair advantage to minorities. From the perspective of others who

daily experience the consequences of ongoing discrimination, affirmative action is

needed to protect opportunities likely to evaporate if an affirmative obligation to act

fairly does not exist. And for Americans of all backgrounds, the allocation of

opportunity in a society that is becoming ever more dependent on knowledge and

education is a source of great anxiety and concern.

At the center of these debates are interpretations of the gaps in educational

achievement between white and non-Asian minority students as measured by

standardized test scores. The presumption that guides much of the conversation is that

equal opportunity now exists; therefore, continued low levels of achievement on the

part of minority students must be a function of genes, culture, or a lack of effort and

will (see, for example, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve and

Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom’s America in Black and White).

The assumptions that undergird this debate miss an important reality: educational

outcomes for minority children are much more a function of their unequal access to key

educational resources, including skilled teachers and quality curriculum, than they are a

function of race. In fact, the U.S. educational system is one of the most unequal in the

industrialized world, and students routinely receive dramatically different learning

opportunities based on their social status. In contrast to European and Asian nations

that fund schools centrally and equally, the wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. school districts

spend nearly 10 times more than the poorest 10 percent, and spending ratios of 3 to 1

are common within states. Despite stark differences in funding, teacher quality,

curriculum, and class sizes, the prevailing view is that if students do not achieve, it is

their own fault. If we are ever to get beyond the problem of the color line, we must

confront and address these inequalities.

The Nature of Educational Inequality

Americans often forget that as late as the 1960s most African-American, Latino, and

Native American students were educated in wholly segregated schools funded at rates

many times lower than those serving whites and were excluded from many higher

education institutions entirely. The end of legal segregation followed by efforts to

equalize spending since 1970 has made a substantial difference for student

achievement. On every major national test, including the National Assessment of

Educational Progress, the gap in minority and white students’ test scores narrowed

substantially between 1970 and 1990, especially for elementary school students. On the

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the scores of African-American students climbed 54

points between 1976 and 1994, while those of white students remained stable.

Even so, educational experiences for minority students have continued to be

substantially separate and unequal. Two-thirds of minority students still attend schools

that are predominantly minority, most of them located in central cities and funded well

below those in neighboring suburban districts. Recent analyses of data prepared for

school finance cases in Alabama, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and Texas have found

that on every tangible measure—from qualified teachers to curriculum offerings—

schools serving greater numbers of students of color had significantly fewer resources

than schools serving mostly white students. As William L. Taylor and Dianne Piche

noted in a 1991 report to Congress: Inequitable systems of school finance inflict

disproportionate harm on minority and economically disadvantaged students. On an

inter-state basis, such students are concentrated in states, primarily in the South, that

have the lowest capacities to finance public education. On an intra-state basis, many of

the states with the widest disparities in educational expenditures are large industrial

states. In these states, many minorities and economically disadvantaged students are

located in property-poor urban districts which fare the worst in educational

expenditures (or) in rural districts which suffer from fiscal inequity.

Jonathan Kozol s 1991 Savage Inequalities described the striking differences between

public schools serving students of color in urban settings and their suburban

counterparts, which typically spend twice as much per student for populations with

many fewer special needs. Contrast MacKenzie High School in Detroit, where word

processing courses are taught without word processors because the school cannot afford

them, or East St. Louis Senior High School, whose biology lab has no laboratory tables

or usable dissecting kits, with nearby suburban schools where children enjoy a

computer hookup to Dow Jones to study stock transactions and science laboratories

that rival those in some industries. Or contrast Paterson, New Jersey, which could not

afford the qualified teachers needed to offer foreign language courses to most high

school students, with Princeton, where foreign languages begin in elementary school.

Even within urban school districts, schools with high concentrations of low-income and

minority students receive fewer instructional resources than others. And tracking

systems exacerbate these inequalities by segregating many low-income and minority

students within schools. In combination, these policies leave minority students with

fewer and lower-quality books, curriculum materials, laboratories, and computers;

significantly larger class sizes; less qualified and experienced teachers; and less access

to high-quality curriculum. Many schools serving low-income and minority students do

not even offer the math and science courses needed for college, and they provide lower-

quality teaching in the classes they do offer. It all adds up.

What Difference Does it Make?

Since the 1966 Coleman report, Equality of Educational Opportunity, another debate

has waged as to whether money makes a difference to educational outcomes. It is

certainly possible to spend money ineffectively; however, studies that have developed

more sophisticated measures of schooling show how money, properly spent, makes a

difference. Over the past 30 years, a large body of research has shown that four factors

consistently influence student achievement: all else equal, students perform better if

they are educated in smaller schools where they are well known (300 to 500 students is

optimal), have smaller class sizes (especially at the elementary level), receive a

challenging curriculum, and have more highly qualified teachers.

Minority students are much less likely than white children to have any of these

resources. In predominantly minority schools, which most students of color attend,

schools are large (on average, more than twice as large as predominantly white schools

and reaching 3,000 students or more in most cities); on average, class sizes are 15

percent larger overall (80 percent larger for non-special education classes); curriculum

offerings and materials are lower in quality; and teachers are much less qualified in

terms of levels of education, certification, and training in the fields they teach. And in

integrated schools, as UCLA professor Jeannie Oakes described in the 1980s and

Harvard professor Gary Orfield’s research has recently confirmed, most minority

students are segregated in lower-track classes with larger class sizes, less qualified

teachers, and lower-quality curriculum.

Research shows that teachers’ preparation makes a tremendous difference to children’s

learning. In an analysis of 900 Texas school districts, Harvard economist Ronald

Ferguson found that teachers’ expertise—as measured by scores on a licensing

examination, master’s degrees, and experienc—was the single most important

determinant of student achievement, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the

measured variance in students’ reading and math achievement gains in grades 1-12.

After controlling for socioeconomic status, the large disparities in achievement between

black and white students were almost entirely due to differences in the qualifications of

their teachers. In combination, differences in teacher expertise and class sizes

accounted for as much of the measured variance in achievement as did student and

family background (figure 1).

Ferguson and Duke economist Helen Ladd repeated this analysis in Alabama and again

found sizable influences of teacher qualifications and smaller class sizes on

achievement gains in math and reading. They found that more of the difference

between the high- and low-scoring districts was explained by teacher qualifications and

class sizes than by poverty, race, and parent education.

Meanwhile, a Tennessee study found that elementary school students who are assigned

to ineffective teachers for three years in a row score nearly 50 percentile points lower on

achievement tests than those assigned to highly effective teachers over the same period.

Strikingly, minority students are about half as likely to be assigned to the most effective

teachers and twice as likely to be assigned to the least effective.

Minority students are put at greatest risk by the American tradition of allowing

enormous variation in the qualifications of teachers. The National Commission on

Teaching and America’s Future found that new teachers hired without meeting

certification standards (25 percent of all new teachers) are usually assigned to teach the

most disadvantaged students in low-income and high-minority schools, while the most

highly educated new teachers are hired largely by wealthier schools (figure 2). Students

in poor or predominantly minority schools are much less likely to have teachers who are

fully qualified or hold higher-level degrees. In schools with the highest minority

enrollments, for example, students have less than a 50 percent chance of getting a math

or science teacher with a license and a degree in the field. In 1994, fully one-third of

teachers in high-poverty schools taught without a minor in their main field and nearly

70 percent taught without a minor in their secondary teaching field.

Studies of underprepared teachers consistently find that they are less effective with

students and that they have difficulty with curriculum development, classroom

management, student motivation, and teaching strategies. With little knowledge about

how children grow, learn, and develop, or about what to do to support their learning,

these teachers are less likely to understand students’ learning styles and differences, to

anticipate students’ knowledge and potential difficulties, or to plan and redirect

instruction to meet students’ needs. Nor are they likely to see it as their job to do so,

often blaming the students if their teaching is not successful.

Teacher expertise and curriculum quality are interrelated, because a challenging

curriculum requires an expert teacher. Research has found that both students and

teachers are tracked: that is, the most expert teachers teach the most demanding

courses to the most advantaged students, while lower-track students assigned to less

able teachers receive lower-quality teaching and less demanding material. Assignment

to tracks is also related to race: even when grades and test scores are comparable, black

students are more likely to be assigned to lower-track, nonacademic classes.

When Opportunity Is More Equal

What happens when students of color do get access to more equal opportunities’

Studies find that curriculum quality and teacher skill make more difference to

educational outcomes than the initial test scores or racial backgrounds of students.

Analyses of national data from both the High School and Beyond Surveys and the

National Educational Longitudinal Surveys have demonstrated that, while there are

dramatic differences among students of various racial and ethnic groups in course-

taking in such areas as math, science, and foreign language, for students with similar

course-taking records, achievement test score differences by race or ethnicity narrow

substantially.

Robert Dreeben and colleagues at the University of Chicago conducted a long line of

studies documenting both the relationship between educational opportunities and

student performance and minority students’ access to those opportunities. In a

comparative study of 300 Chicago first graders, for example, Dreeben found that

African-American and white students who had comparable instruction achieved

comparable levels of reading skill. But he also found that the quality of instruction

given African-American students was, on average, much lower than that given white

students, thus creating a racial gap in aggregate achievement at the end of first grade.

In fact, the highest-ability group in Dreeben’s sample was in a school in a low-income

African-American neighborhood. These children, though, learned less during first grade

than their white counterparts because their teacher was unable to provide the

challenging instruction they deserved.

When schools have radically different teaching forces, the effects can be profound. For

example, when Eleanor Armour-Thomas and colleagues compared a group of

exceptionally effective elementary schools with a group of low-achieving schools with

similar demographic characteristics in New York City, roughly 90 percent of the

variance in student reading and mathematics scores at grades 3, 6, and 8 was a function

of differences in teacher qualifications. The schools with highly qualified teachers

serving large numbers of minority and low-income students performed as well as much

more advantaged schools.

Most studies have estimated effects statistically. However, an experiment that randomly

assigned seventh grade “at-risk”students to remedial, average, and honors mathematics

classes found that the at-risk students who took the honors class offering a pre-algebra

curriculum ultimately outperformed all other students of similar backgrounds. Another

study compared African-American high school youth randomly placed in public housing

in the Chicago suburbs with city-placed peers of equivalent income and initial academic

attainment and found that the suburban students, who attended largely white and

better-funded schools, were substantially more likely to take challenging courses,

perform well academically, graduate on time, attend college, and find good jobs.

What Can Be Done?

This state of affairs is not inevitable. Last year the National Commission on Teaching

and America’s Future issued a blueprint for a comprehensive set of policies to ensure a

“caring, competent, and qualified teacher for every child,” as well as schools organized

to support student success. Twelve states are now working directly with the commission

on this agenda, and others are set to join this year. Several pending bills to overhaul the

federal Higher Education Act would ensure that highly qualified teachers are recruited

and prepared for students in all schools. Federal policymakers can develop incentives,

as they have in medicine, to guarantee well-prepared teachers in shortage fields and

high-need locations. States can equalize education spending, enforce higher teaching

standards, and reduce teacher shortages, as Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, and

North Carolina have already done. School districts can reallocate resources from

administrative superstructures and special add-on programs to support better-educated

teachers who offer a challenging curriculum in smaller schools and classes, as

restructured schools as far apart as New York and San Diego have done. These schools,

in communities where children are normally written off to lives of poverty, welfare

dependency, or incarceration, already produce much higher levels of achievement for

students of color, sending more than 90 percent of their students to college. Focusing

on what matters most can make a real difference in what children have the opportunity

to learn. This, in turn, makes a difference in what communities can accomplish.

An Entitlement to Good Teaching

The common presumption about educational inequality—that it resides primarily in

those students who come to school with inadequate capacities to benefit from what the

school has to offer—continues to hold wide currency because the extent of inequality in

opportunities to learn is largely unknown. We do not currently operate schools on the

presumption that students might be entitled to decent teaching and schooling as a

matter of course. In fact, some state and local defendants have countered school finance

and desegregation cases with assertions that such remedies are not required unless it

can be proven that they will produce equal outcomes. Such arguments against

equalizing opportunities to learn have made good on DuBois’s prediction that the

problem of the 20th century would be the problem of the color line.

But education resources do make a difference, particularly when funds are used to

purchase well-qualified teachers and high-quality curriculum and to create

personalized learning communities in which children are well known. In all of the

current sturm und drang about affirmative action, “special treatment,” and the other

high-volatility buzzwords for race and class politics in this nation, I would offer a simple

starting point for the next century s efforts: no special programs, just equal educational

opportunity.

A R T I C L E AUG 12, 2020

The Black-White Wealth
Gap Will Widen
Educational Disparities
During the Coronavirus
Pandemic
Less wealth makes it more di!cult for African American parents to get reliable access to the internet
and devices for remote learning.

AUTHORS

Dania Francis

,
, ,

, , , ,
, , ,

A student leans over her laptop while working on a project in Oakland, California, in August 2017. (Getty/Aric Crabb)

!

With the fall fast approaching, schooling has moved front and center in the public
debate. Despite repeated urging that public schools resume
in-person classes, many school districts have already due to
surging coronavirus cases across the United States. While a necessary public health
measure, moving classes online raises significant racial equity issues that state, local,
and federal policymakers must keep in mind as they craft legislative solutions for the
fall. Black families and predominantly Black communities often have fewer economic
resources—including less wealth and —to support remote learning
and ensure students have access to the internet and necessary devices such as
computers and other equipment. Due to this —and
combined with coronavirus-induced job losses and housing insecurity—many Black
children could quickly fall behind their white peers this fall.

Divergent access to the necessary for successful remote learning—such as
books, computers, and other equipment—could further worsen

. Due to systemic racism in the housing industry, predominantly
Black neighborhoods tend to have . This, in turn, means the
schools in these same neighborhoods have fewer financial resources—and these

have only increased and during the
pandemic.

The flipside of underresourced schools is that parents will have to provide more of the
resources themselves as schools transition to remote learning. The pressure on parents
to provide these additional resources is greatest in communities where families have
less wealth and thus less ability to support their children’s online education. Unless
Congress provides the money so that local leaders and school districts can make
necessary changes, many Black children are more likely to fall behind their white peers
in education, stymying their educational progress.

How the racial wealth gap affects
educational attainment
In the United States, wealth and education already feed into each other in an
intergenerational cycle. Families with more wealth are able to provide more educational
opportunities for their children, who are in turn able to capitalize on those
opportunities in ways that create more wealth. This reinforcement of wealth through
education and of education through wealth—when combined with the racially disparate
economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic—will only further widen
existing racial wealth and education gaps. The intergenerational transmission of racial
wealth inequality is playing out at rapid speed during the pandemic.

Wealth—the di”erence between what people own and what they owe—is key to
families’ immediate financial security and their long-term economic mobility. During an
economic crisis, families with more wealth are better able to protect themselves in the
event of adverse personal outcomes such as temporary layo”s or more permanent job
losses. In communities that experience widespread job losses, those who have better
economic standing to begin with are

. In the current pandemic, for example, wealth can provide emergency
savings to help pay bills—especially rent or mortgage payments, which are key to
maintaining housing stability.

Yet have a median wealth of about 10 cents to every dollar of wealth of
the median white family. In 2016, the last year for which data are available, the median
Black family had about $17,150 in wealth while the median white family had about
$171,000 in wealth. Because wealth is often passed on from one generation to the next,
this massive wealth gap between Black and white families . As

the authors of the comprehensive report “
” point out, “wealth begets more wealth.” Inheritances and gifts,

access to beneficial social networks, and education are all mechanisms by which
families pass on wealth to their children. Put simply, white families have more
opportunities than Black families to give their children a leg up because they have
access to more wealth.

Recent job losses have exacerbated the
racial wealth gap
This past spring, school closures and the transition to online learning, while a necessary
public health measure, required that families had access to financial resources to help
pay for part of their children’s education. At the same time, many of these same parents
lost part or all of their earnings from coronavirus-induced job losses and cuts in hours.
Black workers, who tend to work in less stable jobs where they are at higher risk of
getting laid o”, are to feel the brunt of an economic downturn.
These jobs also make it more di!cult for people to buy a house . African
American families then live in more financially precarious situations because they are

and can be more easily evicted if they fail to pay their
rent and because they have fewer savings outside their house than is the case for white
families. Less wealth—reflected, among other things, in lower homeownership rates—
makes it more di!cult for Black families to a”ord reliable internet service and
electronic devices, both of which are necessary for remote learning.

African Americans have experienced particularly large job losses in a labor market
characterized by persistent racism and inequality, as the

discuss in a recent report. Estimates based on
show that 54.8 percent of Black workers said that they had lost incomes due to a

job loss or cut in hours from late April to early June, compared with 45.8 percent of
white workers.

The labor market pain has created housing instability for Black families to a much larger
degree than was the case for white families. Estimates based on show that
more than one-third of African Americans who experienced job-related income losses
said that they either didn’t pay their mortgage or deferred their mortgage, compared
with only 16.9 percent for white families with earnings losses. Among renters, 38.3
percent of Black families with income losses didn’t pay or deferred their rent, compared
with 23.1 percent of white families in a similar situation.

Housing insecurity among Black families worsens the digital
divide

The sharp labor market decline this past spring the housing stability of Black
families more quickly than it did for white families. This discrepancy reflects
di”erences in emergency savings. , for example, show that 36.4
percent of African American homeowners and 56.4 percent of African American renters
could not access $400 in an emergency in April 2020. In comparison, 24.4 percent of
white homeowners and 50.9 percent of white renters had di!culties coming up with
that amount in an emergency. Without emergency savings, many more Black
homeowners and renters quickly faced trouble making their monthly payments than
white homeowners and renters when they lost their jobs.

As a result, many Black families also had fewer savings to pay for tools such as internet
access and electronic devices, which are crucial to maintaining children’s education.
About 1 in 7 Black renters who have no trouble paying their current rent only have
access to the internet for educational purposes sometimes, rarely, or never. This is

almost three times as large a share as Black homeowners who had no trouble paying
their mortgage. Importantly, most Black families rent rather than own their home. And
the gap between Black homeowners and Black renters in having reliable internet access
is much greater than among white homeowners and white renters. The same is true
when it comes to access to electronic devices: Black renters are much less likely than
either Black homeowners or white renters to have reliable access to these devices. (see
Figure 1)

Homeownership is often a because
it allows families to have more predictable housing costs. Yet most Black families rent
their homes, and many of those renters have had trouble paying their bills amid the
current recession. These job losses have only exacerbated the lack of access to the
internet and electronic devices. For example, 28.7 percent of Black parents with
children in public or private schools who had trouble paying their rent in the previous
month also said that they only sometimes, rarely, or never had access to the internet.
And 36.8 percent of Black renters having trouble paying their rent said that they only
sometimes, rarely, or never had access to devices for educational purposes for their
children. (see Figure 1) These are much larger shares than for any other group of Black
or white renters or homeowners. A lack of savings creates more housing instability for
Black families, which leads to less access to the internet and electronic devices for
remote learning.

The lack of reliable internet or an electronic device for remote learning also correlates
with fewer hours per week of teaching time. (see Figure 2) This correlation is much
larger among Black families than white families, where the lack of reliable access to the
internet and to devices is less pronounced. Unreliable internet access and a lack of
consistent access to electronic devices reduces families’ time teaching children by two
to three hours among Black families but only by one to two hours among white families.
(see Figure 2) White families without reliable internet or devices are probably also less
likely to simultaneously experience job loss and a lack of savings; as a result, they can
a”ord to spend additional time with their children to o”set the lack of internet and
devices. While the short- and long-term impacts of coronavirus-related school closures
and job losses on children’s educational outcomes cannot be measured yet, it is already
clear that there are di”erential e”ects by race on access to educational resources as a
result of the pandemic. In particular,
directly and immediately feeds into persistent educational gaps.

What schools and policymakers can do to
offset this
As the debate over school reopenings heats up, policymakers must consider how wealth
disparities between Black and white families will a”ect educational outcomes. Parents,
as well as teachers and sta”, need to feel safe sending their children back to school.
When in-person schooling is not possible, parents must have the resources to help their
children learn remotely. Schools and local government can provide reliable internet
service and electronic devices to children—but they need . State
and local governments will also need to ensure that families by
extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.

Furthermore, Congress can do more to o”set increasingly permanent job losses; for
example, Congress can extend added unemployment benefits and protect public sector
employment by helping state and local governments address large coronavirus-related
budget deficits. Congress and employers can also make sure that parents can

from work to help their children with their education when schools are closed
or remote learning is necessary. All of this assistance will be especially valuable to Black
families, who often have much fewer savings than white families to tide them over in an
emergency. Without targeted assistance to ensure that parents can maintain a quality
education for their children, school closures and continued remote learning will widen
the racial educational achievement gaps between Black and white children for the
foreseeable future.

Dania Francis is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the
University of Massachusetts Boston. Christian E. Weller is a professor in the
McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of
Massachusetts Boston and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our
.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and
conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available .
American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work
possible.

The Center for American Progress is an independent
nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to
improving the lives of all Americans through bold,
progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and
concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the
conversation, but to change the country.

Learn about our sister organization, the
, an advocacy

organization dedicated to improving the lives of
all Americans.

©2021 Center for American Progress

A U T H O R S Dania Francis

Senior Fellow

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R E P O R T A R T I C L E R E P O R T A R T I C L E

A R T I C L E A R T I C L E R E P O R T R E P O R T

FACTS SCHOOL INTEGRATION

The Benefits of Socioeconomically and Racially Integrated Schools and
Classrooms

APRIL 29, 2019

Research shows that racial and socioeconomic diversity in the classroom can provide students with a range of cognitive and

social benefits. And school policies around the country are beginning to catch up. Today, over 4 million students in America are

enrolled in school districts or charter schools with socioeconomic integration policies—a number that has more than doubled

since 2007.

Here’s why the growing momentum in favor of diversity in schools is good news for all students:

Academic and Cognitive Benefits

On average, students in socioeconomically and racially diverse schools—regardless of a student’s own economic status—have

stronger academic outcomes than students in schools with concentrated poverty.

Students in integrated schools have higher average test scores. On the 2011 National Assessment of Educational

Progress (NAEP) given to fourth graders in math, for example, low-income students attending more affluent schools scored

roughly two years of learning ahead of low-income students in high-poverty schools. Controlling carefully for students’

family background, another study found that students in mixed-income schools showed 30 percent more growth in test

scores over their four years in high school than peers with similar socioeconomic backgrounds in schools with concentrated

poverty.

Students in integrated schools are more likely to enroll in college. When comparing students with similar

socioeconomic backgrounds, those students at more affluent schools are 68 percent more likely to enroll at a four-year

college than their peers at high-poverty schools.

Students in integrated schools are less likely to drop out. Dropout rates are significantly higher for students in

segregated, high-poverty schools than for students in integrated schools. During the height of desegregation in the 1970s

and 1980s, dropout rates decreased for minority students, with the greatest decline in dropout rates occurring in districts

that had undergone the largest reductions in school segregation.

Integrated schools help to reduce racial achievement gaps. In fact, the racial achievement gap in K–12 education closed

more rapidly during the peak years of school desegregation in the 1970s and 1980s than it has overall in the decades that

followed—when many desegregation policies were dismantled. More recently, black and Latino students had smaller

achievement gaps with white students on the 2007 and 2009 NAEP when they were less likely to be stuck in high-poverty

school environments. The gap in SAT scores between black and white students continues to be larger in segregated

districts, and one study showed that change from complete segregation to complete integration in a district could reduce as

much as one quarter of the current SAT score disparity. A recent study from Stanford’s Center for Education Policy

1

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Analysis confirmed that school segregation is one of the most significant drivers of the racial achievement gap.

Integrated classrooms encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. We know that diverse classrooms,

in which students learn cooperatively alongside those whose perspectives and backgrounds are different from their own,

are beneficial to all students—including middle-class white students—because these environments promote creativity,

motivation, deeper learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Civic and Social-Emotional Benefits

Racially and socioeconomically diverse schools offer students important social-emotional benefits by exposing them to peers of

different backgrounds. The increased tolerance and cross-cultural dialogue that result from these interactions are beneficial for

civil society.

Attending a diverse school can help reduce racial bias and counter stereotypes. Children are at risk of developing

stereotypes about racial groups if they live in and are educated in racially isolated settings. By contrast, when school

settings include students from multiple racial groups, students become more comfortable with people of other races, which

leads to a dramatic decrease in discriminatory attitudes and prejudices.

Students who attend integrated schools are more likely to seek out integrated settings later in life. Integrated schools

encourage relationships and friendships across group lines. According to one study, students who attend racially diverse

high schools are more likely to live in diverse neighborhoods five years after graduation.

Integrated classrooms can improve students’ satisfaction and intellectual self-confidence. Research on diversity at the

college level shows that when students have positive experiences interacting with students of other backgrounds and view

the campus racial and cultural climate as affirming, they emerge with greater confidence in their own academic abilities.

Learning in integrated settings can enhance students’ leadership skills. A longitudinal study of college students found

that the more often first-year students were exposed to diverse educational settings, the more their leadership skills

improved.

Meaningful relationships between individuals with different racial or ethnic backgrounds impacts how people treat

racial and ethnic groups. Studies show that emotional bonds formed through close cross-group relationships lead people

to treat members of their friends’ groups as well as they treat members of their own groups. These types of relationships are

most commonly formed within schools that have greater levels of racial and ethnic diversity.

Exposure to diversity reduces anxiety. Longitudinal studies in Europe, South Africa, and the United .States. surveyed

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students and found that positive intergroup contact predicts lower levels of anxiety in relations with them.

Economic Benefits

Providing more students with integrated school environments is a cost-effective strategy for boosting student achievement and

preparing students for work in a diverse global economy.

School integration efforts produce a high return on investment. According to one recent estimate, reducing

socioeconomic segregation in our schools by half would produce a return on investment of 3-5 times the cost of the

programs.

Attending an integrated school can be a more effective academic intervention than receiving extra funding in a

higher-poverty school. One study of students in Montgomery County, Maryland, found that students living in public

housing randomly assigned to lower-poverty neighborhoods and schools outperformed those assigned to higher-poverty

neighborhoods and schools—even though the higher-poverty schools received extra funding per pupil.

School integration promotes more equitable access to resources. Integrating schools can help to reduce disparities in

access to well-maintained facilities, highly qualified teachers, challenging courses, and private and public funding.

Diverse classrooms prepare students to succeed in a global economy. In higher education, university officials and

business leaders argue that diverse college campuses and classrooms prepare students for life, work, and leadership in a

more global economy by fostering leaders who are creative, collaborative, and able to navigate deftly in dynamic,

multicultural environments.

Diversity produces more productive, more effective, and more creative teams. Integrated schools and workplaces

support the conditions necessary to foster the core tenets of deeper learning such as communication, inquiry, and

collaboration. Simply interacting with people from different backgrounds encourages group members to prepare better, to

anticipate alternative viewpoints, and to be ready to work towards consensus.

Children who attended integrated schools had higher earnings as adults, had improved health outcomes, and were

less likely to be incarcerated. Researcher Rucker Johnson tracked black children exposed to desegregation plans in the

1960s through the 1980s, and found a variety of positive outcomes for the quality and longevity of life associated with

school integration.

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Adapted from How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students (2016) and A Smarter Charter: Finding

What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education (2014).

Notes

1. NAEP Data Explorer, National Assessment for Educational Progress, 2017, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/;

and C. Lubienski and S. T. Lubienski, “Charter, private, public schools and academic achievement: New evidence from NAEP

mathematics data,” National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, January

2006, https://nepc.colorado.edu/sites/default/files/EPRU-0601-137-OWI[1].pdf.

2. G. Palardy, “Differential school effects among low, middle, and high social class composition schools,” School Effectiveness and

School Improvement 19, 1 (2008): 37.

3. G. J. Palardy, “High school socioeconomic segregation and student attainment,” American Educational Research Journal, 50,

no. 4 (2013): 714.

4. R. Balfanz and N. Legters, “LOCATING THE DROPOUT CRISIS: Which High Schools Produce the Nation’s Dropouts? Where Are

They Located? Who Attends Them?” Center for Research on The Education of Students Placed at Risk, Johns Hopkins Univfersity,

September 2004, http://www.csos.jhu.edu/crespar/techreports/report70.pdf.

5. R. A. Mickelson, “Twenty-first Century Social Science Research on School Diversity and Educational Outcomes,” Ohio State Law

Journal 69, (2008): 1173–228, http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/students/groups/oslj/files/2012/04/69.6.Mickelson.pdf; G. D. Borman

and N. M. Dowling, “Schools and Inequality: A Multilevel Analysis of Coleman’s Equality of Educational Opportunity Data,”

Teachers College Record 112, (2010): 1201–246, http://www.tcrecord.org/content.asp?Contentid=15664.

6. G. Orfield, “Schools More Separate: Consequences of a Decade of Resegregation,” The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University,

July 2001, http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/schools-more-separate-

consequences-of-a-decade-of-resegregation/orfield-schools-more-separate-2001.pdf.

7. Ann Mantil, Anne G. Perkins, and Stephanie Aberger, “The Challenge of High-Poverty Schools: How Feasible Is Socioeconomic

School Integration?” in The Future of School Integration, ed. Richard D. Kahlenberg(New York: The Century Foundation, 2012),

155–222.

8. D. Card and J. Rothstein, “Racial Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap,” working paper, The National Bureau of

Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, 2006, https://www.nber.org/papers/w12078.pdf.

9. Sean Reardon, Demetra Kalogrides, and Kenneth Shores, “The Geography of Racial/Ethnic Test Score Gaps”, CEPA Working

Paper No.16-10, May 2018.

10. S. E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies (Princeton, NJ:

Princeton University Press, 2008), http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8757.html; M. Chang, “The Educational Benefits of

Sustaining Cross-Racial Interaction Among Undergraduates,” The Journal of Higher Education 77, no. 3 (May/June 2006): 430,

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jhe/summary/v077/77.3chang.html; M. J. Chang, “The Positive Educational Effects of Racial

Diversity on Campus,” in Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action, ed. G. Orfield and M. Kurlaender

(Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2001): 175–86, http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED456190; M. Chang, D. Witt, J.

Jones, and K. Hakuta, Compelling Interest: Examining the Evidence on Racial Dynamics in Higher Education (Palo Alto, CA:

Stanford University Press, 2003); P. Y. Gurin, “Expert Witness Report in Gratz et al. v. Bollinger et al,” 1998,

http://diversity.umich.edu/admissions/legal/expert/gurintoc.html; K. Phillips, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” Scientific

American 311, no. 4 (October 2014), http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/; A. L. Antonio,

M. J. Chang, K. Hakuta, D. A. Kenny, S. Levin, and J. F. Milem, “Effects of Racial Diversity on Complex Thinking in College

Students,” Psychological Science 15, no. 8 (August 2004): 507-510, http://pss.sagepub.com/content/15/8/507.short; Brief of

Amicus Curiae 553 Social Scientists, Parents Involved v. Seattle School District 551 U.S. 701 (2007) (No. 05-908); P. Marin, “The

educational possibility of multi-racial/multi-ethnic college classrooms,” in Does Diversity Make a Difference? Three Research

Studies on Diversity in College Classrooms (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education & American Association of

University Professors, 2000), 61–68.

11. R. Bigler, & L. S. Liben, “A Developmental Intergroup Theory of Social Stereotypes and Prejudices,” Advances in Child

Development and Behavior, 34 (2006), 39-89. T. F. Pettigrew, and L. R. Tropp, “A Meta-Analytic Test of Intergroup Contact

Theory”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, no. 5 (2006), 751–83. See also J. Boisjoly, G. J. Duncan, M. Kremer,

D. M. Levy, & J. Eccles, “Empathy or Antipathy? The Impact of Diversity,” American Economic Review, 96, no. 5 (2006), 1890-

1905; Heidi McGlothlin and Melanie Killen, “How Social Experience Is Related to Children’s Intergroup Attitudes,” European

Journal of Social Psychology 40, no 4 (2010): 625; Adam Rutland, Lindsey Cameron, Laura Bennett, and Jennifer Ferrell,

“Interracial Contact and Racial Constancy: A Multi-site Study of Racial Intergroup Bias in 3-5 Year Old Anglo-British Children,”

Applied Developmental Psychology 26 (2005): 699–713, https://kar.kent.ac.uk/26168/4/rutland%20et%20al%20JADP.pdf; and

Amy Stuart Wells and Robert L. Crain, “Perpetuation Theory and the Long-Term Effects of School Desegregation,” Review of

Educational Research 64, no. 4 (1994): 531–55.

12. K. J. R. Phillips, R. J. Rodosky, M. A. Muñoz, & E. S. Larsen, “Integrated Schools, Integrated Futures? A Case Study of School

Desegregation in Jefferson County, Kentucky, ” in From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School

Desegregation, ed. C. E. Smrekar, & E. B. Goldring, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2009), 239-70.

13. N. F. P. Gilfoyle, “Brief of amici curiae: The American Psychological Association in Support of Respondents in Fisher v.

University of Texas at Austin,” November 2, 2015, http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/14-

981bsacAmericanPsychologicalAssociation.pdf; “Brief of The American Educational Research Association, et.al. as amici curiae in

Support of Respondents in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin,” October, 30, 2015, http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-

content/uploads/2015/11/14-981bsacAmericanEducationalResearchAssociationEtAl.pdf.

14. “Brief of amici curiae: The American Psychological Association in Support of Respondents in Fisher v. University of Texas at

Austin”; N. A. Bowman, “How Much Diversity is Enough? The Curvilinear Relationship Between College Diversity Interactions and

First-year Student Outcomes,” Research in Higher Education 54, no. 8 (December 2013): 874-894,

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257658414_How_Much_Diversity_is_Enough_The_Curvilinear_Relationship_Between_College_Diversity_Interactions_and_First-

Year_Student_Outcomes.

15. Linda Tropp and Suchi Saxena, “Re-weaving the Social Fabric through Integrated Schools: How Intergroup Contact Prepares

Youth to Thrive in a Multicultural Society,” May 2018, http://school-diversity.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/NCSD_Brief13.pdf.

16. S. Levin, C. van Laar, J. Sidanius, “The Effects of Ingroup and Outgroup Friendship on Ethnic Attitudes in College: A

Longitudinal Study,” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 6 (2003), 76-92; H. Swart, M. Hewstone, O. Christ, and A. Voci,

“Affect Mediators of Intergroup Contact: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Studies in South Africa,” Journal of Personality and Social

Psychology, 101 (2011), 1221-1238.

17. M. Basile, “The Cost-Effectiveness of Socioeconomic School Integration” in The Future of School Integration: Socioeconomic

Diversity as an Education Reform Strategy, ed. R. D. Kahlenberg (New York, NY: The Century Foundation Press, 2012), 127-154.

18. H. Schwartz, “Housing Policy is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery

County, Maryland,” in The Future of School Integration: Socioeconomic Diversity as an Education Reform Strategy, ed. R. D.

Kahlenberg (New York, NY: The Century Foundation Press, 2012), 27-66.

19. M. M. Chiu and L. Khoo, “Effects of Resources, Inequality, and Privilege Bias on Achievement: Country, School, and Student

Level Analyses,” American Educational Research Journal 42, no. 4 (2005): 575-603,

http://aer.sagepub.com/content/42/4/575.abstract; S. W. Raudenbush, R. P. Fotiu, and Y. F. Cheong, “Inequality of Access to

Educational Resources: A National Report Card for Eighth- Grade Math,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 20 (1998):

253–67, http://www.ssicentral.com/hlm/techdocs/EEPA98.pdf; G. Orfield and C. Lee, “Why Segregation Matters: Poverty and

Educational Inequality,” The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, January 2005, http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-

12-education/integration-and-diversity/why-segregation-matters-poverty-and-educational-inequality/orfield-why-segregation-

matters-2005.pdf; Mark Schneider, “Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes?” National Clearinghouse for Educational

Facilities, November 2002, http://www.ncef.org/pubs/outcomes.pdf; A. S. Wells, B. Baldridge, J. Duran, R. Lofton, A. Roda, M.

Warner, T. White, and C. Grzesikowski, “Why Boundaries Matter: A Study of Five Separate and Unequal Long Island School

Districts,” The Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE), Teachers College, Columbia University, July 2009,

http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/95995; M. Kalmijn and G. Kraaykamp, “Race, Cultural Capital, and Schooling: An

Analysis of Trends in the United States,” Sociology of Education 69 (1996): 22–34, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2112721?

seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents; J. Prager, D. Longshore, and M. Seeman, School Desegregation Research: New Directions in

Situational Analysis (New York, NY: Plenum Press, 1986), https://www.springer.com/us/book/9780306421518?

token=gbgen&wt_mc=GoogleBooks.GoogleBooks.3.EN; P. DiMaggio, “Cultural Capital and School Success: The Impact of Status

Culture Participation on the Grades of U.S. High School Students,” American Sociological Review 47, no. 2 (April 1982): 189–

201,

https://campus.fsu.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/academic/social_sciences/sociology/Reading%20Lists/Stratification%20%28Gender%2C%20Race%2C%20and%20Class%29%20Copies%20of%20Articles%20from%202009/DiMaggio-

ASR-1982.pdf.

20. “Brief of amici curiae: Brown University et al. in Support of Respondents in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.”

21. Katherine W. Phillips, “How Diversity Works,” The Scientific American 311, no. 4, (October 2014), 42-47.

22. Rucker Johnson, “Long-Run Impacts of School Desegregation and School Quality on Adult Attainments,” NBER Working Paper

(Revised August 2015), https://gsppi.berkeley.edu/~ruckerj/johnson_schooldesegregation_NBERw16664.pdf.

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