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The Civil Rights Problem In U.S. Schools: 10 New Numbers

LA Johnson

It's a rare and remarkable view into America's public schools and the challenges that continue some 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education:

The Civil Rights Data Collection survey.

Since 1968, the federal government has been sending it to the nation's schools to gauge educational access and enforce civil rights law.

Today, the U.S. Education Department released its 2013-2014 CRDC results, covering more than 95,000 schools and 50 million students.

There's a lot to wade through, but these are some of the numbers that jumped out at us (links are to previous NPR coverage).

  • 49.7 percent of public school students are students of color: 24.7 percent Hispanic or Latino of any race, 15.5 percent black or African-American, 4.8 percent Asian, 3.1 percent two or more races.
  • 6.5 million students missed 15 days of school or more. That's 13 percent of all students and 18 percent of all high school students. This chronic absenteeism indicator is new to this year's report.
  • Black preschoolers are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white preschoolers.
  • 51 percent of high schools with high black and Latino enrollment also have assigned police officers.
  • 1.6 million students attend a high school with a police officer but no guidance counselor.
  • Black students are 2.3 times more likely than white students to be referred to law enforcement or arrestedas a result of a school incident.
  • Fewer than 3 percent of English language learnersare in gifted programs, though they make up 11 percent of students at the schools that offer those programs. Similar disparities exist for black and Hispanic students.
  • For the first time, the Education Department asked about educational services for young people in justice facilities, including jails and prisons. 21 percent of these facilities offer less than a full school year of instruction.
  • Black and Latino students make up 38 percent of those enrolled at schools that offer AP courses — but less than a third of students taking AP courses. Similar disparities were found in advanced math and science courses like chemistry, physics, algebra II and calculus.
  • In schools with high black and Latino enrollment, 10 percent of teachers were in their first year, compared with 5 percent in largely white schools.
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    Anya Kamenetz is an education correspondent at NPR. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning. Since then the NPR Ed team has won a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Innovation, and a 2015 National Award for Education Reporting for the multimedia national collaboration, the Grad Rates project.