Long Island Index releases study on school segregation
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In Nassau County, the quantifier for black/white segregation jumps to almost 0.7 on the Theil scale, compared with the national average of between 0.21 and 0.25.
The cause, Golob believes, is rather obvious: Long Island’s school district boundaries so closely mimic its already segregated neighborhoods.
“We could be residentially segregated, but if, for example, we had fewer school districts that crossed the residentially segregated communities, your school wouldn’t necessarily have to be racially segregated,” said Elaine Gross, the president and CEO of Erase Racism, a Syosset–based organization. “The students who might live in neighborhoods that were residentially segregated would be going to the same school.”
Ready could not say whether larger school districts would be the answer to Nassau County’s pronounced segregation, but there is data to support that idea, he said. “When you have one [large] school system, the neighborhood you choose to live in is not determinate of what school system you go to,” said Ready. “But in Nassau County, if you move half a mile in any direction, you could be in one of three school systems. They call it ‘municipal fragmentation.’ And when you have that, you’re more likely to get segregation because the housing markets across school systems can hyper-fragment.
“You can say in places that have less fragmentation, there is less segregation,” he added. “Would it be a magic bullet for Nassau? Who knows. But there have been lots of studies, and in places that have less fragmentation, there’s less segregation.”
One way to ease the problem, according to the L.I. Index, would be the creation of magnet schools, along the lines of what BOCES provides — facilities where all students, regardless of their community or district, could go and receive a quality education. “Something like that, where you’re beginning to break down the walls of these districts,” said Golob.