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School Segregation in The Era of Immigration and School Choice: North Carolina, 1998-2016
We document patterns and trends in school segregation in North Carolina between 1998 and 2016, a period of rapid immigration in this racially diverse state. As in other states of the South, the period of court orders enforcing racial balance has given way not only to tacit acceptance of residentially based school segregation but also to policies that offer parents alternatives to traditional public schools. Most prominent among these alternatives in North Carolina are charter schools, which have expanded rapidly with the state’s blessing. Following the prevailing practice of social scientists, we measure segregation by the degree of imbalance across schools, using counties and metropolitan areas as basic geographical units. We differentiate students according to their racial/ethnic group and also to their family income. We take into account all students including those in private schools, charter schools and traditional public schools.
For the state as a whole, we find that white/nonwhite segregation increased over the period. Most of the increase was in urban areas. We also find that low-income students became more segregated from other students. Segregation measured either way increased sharply in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which significantly changed its student assignment policy following a federal court order. Compared to metropolitan areas in other parts of the U.S., urban areas in the state have modest levels of segregation, because most districts are county-wide and thus large and diverse. We decompose metropolitan segregation, separating the portions due to private schools, charter schools, racial disparities between school districts, and racial disparities within districts. Charter schools and within-district disparities accounted for the increase in average segregation in metropolitan areas over the period. More generally, areas where school segregation increased the most tend to be large, growing, and marked by big increases in the share of students who are Hispanic.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd, Mavzuna Turaeva (2018). School Segregation in The Era of Immigration and School Choice: North Carolina, 1998-2016. CALDER Working Paper No. 198-0618-1
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