Southern Schools Lead to Divided Society, Report Says

Southern public schools have started to dramatically re-segregate and are failing to provide equitable public education, according to a new report.

In their publication State of the South 2004, researchers at MDC Inc., a non-profit organization based in Chapel Hill, N.C., paint a picture of the South that is shifting in housing and living patterns.

MDC's report commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared the notion of "separate but equal" schooling unconstitutional. In the South, "the death of legally sanctioned segregation has not yielded full equality in education," the report said.

School choice, charter schools and magnet schools are driving the divisions between races, said Leah Totten, spokeswoman for MDC Inc., which is funded by Coca-Cola, the Ford Foundation, Progress Energy Foundation and Spencer Foundation. The issue is important because the people the South will rely on to run factories, deliver health care and manage government are students whom the South educates poorly today, the report said.

"We hope to bring to the attention of opinion leaders and decision-makers the need for responding to this crisis of re-segregation," Totten said.

The report relies on federal data comparing educational attainment, poverty rates, and percentages of black students in majority-white schools. 

Tags: Education