Besides losing population due to the advent of charter schools, Philadelphia’s public schools remain segregated while schools in surrounding districts have become more integrated, according to a nationwide analysis by the Washington Post.
The analysis found that as the nation’s racial makeup has changed, more students in the country “attend schools with children of different races than ever before" as integration has taken hold in smaller districts that had predominantly white student bodies and have become more diverse. But in many big cities, schools remain segregated.
• Philadelphia: The Philadelphia School District, while considered historically diverse in the analysis, stands out in the region as “not integrated.”
The analysis also underscores how the district’s student population has shrunk from 206,000 in 1995 to 126,000 in 2017, as more families have opted to send their children to charter schools. The analysis also highlights the district’s shifting racial balance, with the proportion of black and white students shrinking while the proportion of Hispanic and Asian students has increased.
• The suburbs: Districts surrounding Philadelphia that the analysis deemed to be “highly integrated” include Lower Merion, Abington, and Cheltenham in Pennsylvania, and Cherry Hill, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel in South Jersey. Of those districts, Cheltenham was classified as historically diverse while the others were considered newly diverse.
Other districts were given no integration score, including Camden, which is 98 percent black and Hispanic and was listed as historically diverse by the Post.
Defining diversity and integration
The Post said a district is considered diverse when no one race constitutes more than 75 percent of the overall student body. Integration scores are based on how a district’s diversity was spread across its schools. The newspaper looked at student populations in 1995 and 2017 in conducting the analysis.
The Post said nationwide, nearly 11 million children were in districts with highly integrated schools in 2017, nearly double the 5.8 million students in districts with schools that are not integrated. The remaining 10.3 million students were in districts with somewhat integrated schools.