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The Undoing of Desegregation: School Segregation in the Era of School Choice and Color-Blind Jurisprudence
The decades-long resistance to federally imposed school desegregation entered a new phase at the turn of the new century, when federal courts adopted a color-blind approach in judging local school districts’ assignment plans. Using data from one of the first states to come under this dictum, we examine the ways in which households and policymakers took actions that reduced the amount of interracial contact in K-12 schools across counties in North Carolina between 1998 and 2016. We divide these reductions in interracial contact into portions due to the private school and charter school sectors, the existence of multiple school districts, and racial disparities between schools within districts and sectors. For most counties, the last of these proves to be the biggest, though in some counties private schools, charter schools, or multiple districts played a deciding role. In addition, we decompose segregation in metropolitan areas, finding that more than half can be attributed to racial disparities inside school districts. We also measure segregation by economic status, finding that it, like racial segregation, increased in the largest urban counties, but elsewhere changed little over the period.
WP 198-0618-2 was originally released in June 2018 under the title, "School Segregation in The Era of Immigration and School Choice: North Carolina, 1998-2016". An updated version was released in June 2020.
Keywords: School segregation, Race and education, charter schools
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd, Mavzuna Turaeva (2018). The Undoing of Desegregation: School Segregation in the Era of School Choice and Color-Blind Jurisprudence. CALDER Working Paper No. 198-0618-2
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