Racial Disparities in Educational Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Posted by Research for Action on November 14, 2016

Racial Disparities in Educational Opportunities in Pennsylvania: A First Look at New Civil Rights Data

Segregation & Educational Inequity in Pennsylvania

Segregation and educational inequity are harmful to students and weaken school systems. Researchers have found that racially and socioeconomically diverse schools and classrooms provide cognitive and academic benefits to all students.1 Increasing school funding in poor school districts has been shown to increase years of completed education, improve earnings, and reduce poverty.2  Closing the achievement gap between white children and black and Hispanic children would boost the US economy by an average of $551 billion per year and generate tax revenues that would dramatically outpace any costs associated with necessary reforms.3  Yet 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education rendered the doctrine of “separate but equal” unconstitutional, Pennsylvania schools are among the most deeply segregated and highly inequitable in the nation.

Even with school segregation on the rise across the country, 4 the degree of segregation in Pennsylvania schools stands out. The rate at which black and Hispanic students attend schools that are over 90% non-white are the 8th and 11th highest in the country, respectively.5 A recent report found that Pennsylvania is home to six of America’s 50 most starkly segregated school district borders, which separate wealthy, predominately white districts from under-resourced schools that serve their mostly non-white neighbors.


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