Severely segregated "apartheid" schools. Sounds like something from a different era. But a new report finds almost three quarters of the schools in D.C. are intensely segregated, with 90 percent or more of their population in minority groups.

The report is called "Our Segregated Capital," and it's from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. It finds that while D.C. has become increasingly diverse, its schools remain racially polarized.

Sixty years after the Supreme Court found separate schools were inherently unequal, D.C.'s schools remain deeply segregated. Some 71 percent of students go to schools where 90 to 100 percent of their classmates are African American or Hispanic. Schools are divided both by race and by poverty.

"These schools are systematically unequal. And D.C. has a larger achievement gap than any state in the country," said co-author Gary Orfield.

Schools in many neighborhoods remain segregated despite an influx of whites and Asians. And charter schools are among the most segregated. The combined share of whites and Asian students in charter schools is less than five percent.

"I was disappointed to discover how segregated all these charter schools are, even though they were created long after the city became more diverse," said Professor Orfield.

The researchers say it can be a life-changing experience for a child struggling with poverty to attend a school where their middle class friends are preparing to graduate and go to college.

"You get a range of kids from different backgrounds and you can all get along together," said Jayla Hutchinson, a senior at Wilson High School, which is one of the most integrated schools in the city. She's already been admitted to one college, and is waiting for word back from 11 more.

The researchers say it is possible to slowly spread integration instead of segregation. They say magnet schools, school choice, and affordable housing are all ways to help pass the American dream to the next generation.

We asked D.C. schools for a response to the research, but we have yet to hear back.


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