Growing up in Connecticut, I never paid attention to school segregation, but after researching and opening my eyes, I know that school segregation is alive and well.
The information is out there to open your eyes, too.
A recent New Yorker explored how Connecticut’s recent budget crisis “left the rich schools robbing millions from the poor schools.” Segregation by race can be accompanied by segregation by socioeconomic status, as well. Kids in poverty aren’t getting a fair chance, and unfortunately, more times than not the kids in poverty are minorities.
Different factors create school segregation, and one of those is zoning. According to the UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, over half of schools in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven are segregated with 90-100 percent minority student body. Virtually all students in segregated schools live in poor areas. Hartford, in particular, is extremely segregated. According to the CT Mirror, “19 percent of the schools in Connecticut where nearly every student comes from a low-income family are located in Hartford.” In the city I’m from, New Haven, upwards of 40 percent of residents are white, but if you went to the city’s public schools you would never know that. For example, at James Hillhouse Comprehensive High School, 68 percent of the students are black, 26 percent are Latino, and only 3 percent are white.
See how much segregation affects public schools?
In cities like New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford, the term “white flight” can be applied and not just in moving out of the city but also in sending children out of the city and the district public schools. In those three cities, instead of sending children to the public schools like Central, Hillhouse and Hartford, parents with the means to send their kids to Fairfield Prep, Metro Business Academy, and Classical Magnet. Those schools give children a grade-A education, and those schools give students a leg up. The majority of those schools are predominately white and wealthy.
Statistics from Realize the Dream say 84 percent of white students will graduate high school, compared to 59 percent of black kids, and that white kids have 3.3-5.5 times the opportunity to be in a gifted program or have an AP course than does a black or Latino child.
Bottom line? Connecticut has a segregated school system, and kids growing up in it don’t even realize it. I didn’t. A lot of these kids will be behind the eight ball when it comes to college and trying to get jobs. The state needs to actively work on this problem, and they need to do so now.
By Donald Scott