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Thursday, October 23, 2014
Long Island Index releases study on school segregation
Rate of racial separation in Nassau County school districts is nearly three times national average

A study on school district segregation recently released by the Long Island Index concluded that the rate of segregation is double the national average on Long Island and nearly triple the national standard in Nassau County.

The report, conducted by Doug Ready, an associate professor of education at the Teachers College at Columbia University, looked at segregation both within and between school districts. According to the report, Long Island has some of the most segregated schools in the country, ranking 10th in the nation in residential segregation between blacks and whites.

“I knew how bad segregation was on Long Island — it’s something that we’ve been writing about for a long time,” said Ann Golob, director of the Long Island Index. “It was kind of obvious that it was going to be bad when you look at the number of school districts we have and how they mirror the housing patterns on Long Island. But what I didn’t know, and this is what threw me, is how much worse we were than the nation as a whole. I knew we were bad, but when Professor Ready was able to quantify those numbers to show how we compared to the rest of the United States, in particular Nassau County, I was kind of floored.”

The method of quantification used in the study is known as Theil’s H, which, according the report, indicates the extent to which racial or ethnic groups are distributed in schools. The value ranges from 0 to 1, where 0 is a perfectly balanced racial or ethnic makeup and 1 is perfectly segregated.

According to the report, segregation between Long Island districts with multiple elementary schools hovers around 0.5 on the scale, which means that segregation between districts is roughly 50 percent higher than segregation within districts.

The report found that segregation within school districts measured less than 0.1 on the Theil scale. “What it means is that there are some districts, in Nassau especially, that are 90 percent black,” said Ready. “… [Y]ou can’t have much segregation in a system that’s 90 percent black.”

Of the 190 Long Island schools Ready used in his analysis, 13 had enrollments that at least 50 percent black. And nine of those 13 schools were in just three districts — Baldwin, Elmont and Roosevelt.

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