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School segregation rises to 1969 levels
Washington Post
Jan. 18, 2004 12:00 AM
Michael Dobbs

Half a century after the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of American education, schools are almost as segregated as they were when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, according to a new report released by Harvard University researchers.

The study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project indicates that progress toward school desegregation peaked in the late 1980s as courts concluded that the goals of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education had largely been achieved. Over the past 15 years, the trend has been in the opposite direction, and most Anglo students now have "little contact" with minority students in many areas of the country, the report said.

"We are celebrating a victory over segregation at a time when schools across the nation are becoming increasingly segregated," said the report, which was issued on the eve of the holiday celebrating King's birthday.

The Harvard study suggests that Hispanic students are even more segregated than African-American students, while Asian-Americans are the most integrated ethnic group in the country. The increase in Latino segregation has been particularly marked in states in the West, where more than 80 percent of Latinos attend predominantly minority schools, compared with 42 percent in 1968.

In the South, the research found a steady decrease in the percentage of Black students attending public schools where at least half of the enrollment is Anglo, down from a peak of 43 percent in 1988 to 30 percent in 2001. That's about the same as 1970, two years after King was assassinated.