In 2015-16, 21,463 students were enrolled in public schools in Hartford, Connecticut. Some 52.5 percent of those students were Hispanic or Latino; 30.6 percent were black or African American. Only 11.1 percent of students were white (thank EdSight for those stats).
This repeats a pattern that holds statewide. In Connecticut, white students make up 17.2 percent of multiracial schools, less than all other racial groups recorded.
So how do we change the lack of diversity in Hartford public schools? One solution could be to bus minority students to mostly white schools, or bus white students to mostly minority schools. But busing is costly, and if we are already worried about schools not getting the funding they need for qualified teachers, books, and updated technology, then spending more money to bus students wouldn’t help.
Then, too, some school districts are already charging parents to allow their children to ride the school bus. Parents might also question the fairness of taking away a child’s opportunity to go to a better-funded school in the suburbs, and send them to a less funded school in the inner city.
One problem with segregated schools is that you cannot force someone to live in a particular neighborhoods, and it’s an unfortunate fact that many homeowners want to move into a place where people look like they do. Whites and blacks are the two races most likely to move into a neighborhood made up predominantly of members of their own racial group, according to Live Science. Using Census data, they were able to find that about 44 percent of black families moved to black neighborhoods and 56.8 percent of white families moved to white neighborhoods.
And now we’re back to busing.
If white people are moving to white neighborhoods, and black people are moving to black neighborhoods, and busing isn’t cost efficient, what can we do?
There probably isn’t an easy way to make schools more diverse. Students should have the ability to attend whatever school is in their neighborhood where they don’t have to take long bus rides, or pay for busing. The real way to solve the problem of unequal learning opportunities for impoverished students is to fund every school the same way. Today’s system of schools being funded by property tax is failing students all over the country. With school funding dependent on property taxes of the surrounding area, educational opportunities for those children living in poverty are few and far between. And without the foundation of a good education, the cycle of poverty just keeps turning.
By Lindsey Allen