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Springfield Schools’ Segregation Making Headlines

By Baily Mannix

In September a group of researchers at Northeastern University conducted a study on one hundred different metropolitan school systems. Shockingly, this study discovered that only second to Los Angeles, CA, Springfield schools had the most segregated Latino students.

The demographic make up of students in the Springfield schools is 54% Latino students, over 20% African American students, 15% Caucasian students, and about 2% Asian students. Despite the heavy Latino population in the Springfield schools, the studies still show that these students are segregated. The races of these students are defining their social groups and ultimately, without diversifying themselves, they are at risk for learning less simply based on their lack of experiences with people who have different backgrounds.

Many parents have seen this as simply diversity in their schools and don’t care if there is more of one race than another. Isn’t a diverse environment supposed to be good for a student? Usually schools that are categorized as “underperforming” tend to have the most minority students enrolled, but principals in the Springfield schools disagree. Kathleen Sullivan, principal of Homer Street School in Springfield was quoted, “The central office and the superintendent office are very aware of our neighborhoods and our boundaries and I think that’s why we went with the boundaries to be more diverse and cultural. So it depends on where people want to live and where we have to place them in schools by their neighborhoods.” Sullivan is stating that children are not placed in school based on race, but based on location. It isn’t up to the schools to decide how diversified their neighborhoods are.

It is certain that the staff and faculty at these schools aim to create a culturally acceptable, diverse, and non-segregated environment for all of their students, but are they succeeding? A parent of a Springfield School student told 22 News, “I would hear a lot of the rumors, ‘Oh, Homer is an all black school, there’s only black children that go there because of the area,’ and so forth. That had nothing to do with my decision. I brought my kids here and it was the best decision I ever made.” With other parents reporting similar observations, it seems that the parents and teachers actually experiencing the environment in the Springfield Schools completely disagree with the study done at Northeastern University. The report from Northeastern states that 73% of Hispanic students in the Springfield Schools would have to switch schools in order for the enrollment of the schools to be desegregated. In this study, the Boston Public Schools come in fourth for Hispanic student segregation as well.

There is one part of the study that is very clear. About 43% of black and Hispanic students attend schools that have a poverty rate within their area of over 80%, where only 4% of white students are found in this predicament. Clearly there is a demographic issue when it comes to the education of these young students, but perhaps it is the funding of the schools and not the segregation of them that people should be focused on.

For more information about the report done by Northeastern University, check out the link below:

http://www.northeastern.edu/news/stories/2010/09/school-segregation.html

A report by the Boston Globe on the study can be found here: http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2010/09/20/segregation_report_raps_boston_springfield_schools/?p1=News_links

Our local news station 22 News also wrote a brief article on the report here:

http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/local/segregation-in-ma-schools-among-worst

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