As Long Island’s population has grown, so has its racial diversity. Not just in neighborhoods, but also in public schools.
Today, about half of Long Island students are white, a steep decline since the turn of the 21st century, when white students outnumbered all other races 7 to 1. Hispanic students now make up one-third classrooms, up from just 11% in 2000, while Asian students make up 10% – just ahead of black students.
But when it comes to the 125 individual schools on the island, such a racial makeup is not so clear cut. Instead, many students end up in predominantly white or predominantly non-white neighborhoods.
A recent report by ERASE Racism found only five school districts that fit the category of having a fairly even racial divide.
While the U.S. Supreme Court banned racial segregation in schools in the 1950s, racially concentrated school districts remain on Long Island, according to Alan Singer, director of social studies programs at Hofstra University.
School district lines were drawn around “Long Island households that were historically red-lined by segregationist policies instituted by banks or real estate interests, and authorized by the federal government,” Singer said. “Today’s school districts still fit these segregated community patterns.”
And in some public schools, these racial divisions are intensifying and not fading. In nearly two decades, the ERASE Racism report found that the number of intensely segregated school districts — those where students of color make up 90% of the population — has doubled.
Education experts suggest this lack of racial integration punishes everyone, depriving students of the opportunity to learn and deal with peers from different backgrounds in an increasingly multicultural world.
But the report concludes that while every district loses, intensely segregated districts pay a higher loss in real dollars and cents than majority-white schools.
On average, nearly $10,000 less is spent per student each year in intensely segregated districts than in predominantly white school districts, the report found, using public and local school data from the 2018-19 school year. .
According to the report, these districts also generally have “less funding, less financial stability, lower (advanced) course availability, higher teacher turnover, and more students for each guidance counselor.” , social worker and teacher than predominantly white districts”.
Many school districts in Valley Stream are among the island’s 32 public school districts that are majority-minority.
But Valley Stream District 30 – with 95% minority student enrollment – joins 10 other districts considered extremely segregated. He averaged that racial makeup for more than a decade. And unlike other schools in the study, District 30 does not face the same resource constraints faced by other intensely segregated districts.
At least that’s the opinion of the report’s lead researcher, Olivia Ildefonso.
The report used the state’s “Resource Needs Capacity Index,” a metric intended to measure a district’s ability to meet the needs of its students with its available local resources. While all other “intensely segregated schools” were listed as “high need”, District 30 was categorized as “low need”.
This means that even though Valley Stream 30 spends less revenue per student than the average for the majority of white schools, Ildefonso said, “they are able to raise enough money to meet the resource needs of their students and offer them quality education.”
District 30, in recent memory, has not had to bow under the same pressure that other intensely segregated districts often find themselves—stretching their funds in an effort to meet the high demands of their low-income students.
But data from public schools suggests that doesn’t mean funding pressures won’t exist in the future.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli designated District 30 as “sensitive environmental stress” for the past academic year.
This statewide score takes into account factors such as changes in the tax base, poverty rates and the student-teacher ratio. They provide insight into community needs and the economic health of the local economy to assess the district’s ability to meet expected and possible future costs.
Over the past year, nearly 60 percent of students in the district were considered “economically disadvantaged,” a poverty statistic that has been rising steadily since 2012.
Roxanne Garcia-France, superintendent of Valley Stream 30, said in a statement that the report “challenges state and local authorities to pursue equitable school funding solutions.”
As she enters her first year of college as superintendent, Garcia-France says she will prioritize “listening to and learning from the voices of the community to ensure state and local resources are equitably distributed in our community”.
She, however, did not respond directly to questions about the growing trend of low-income students in the district.
When looking at how their next-door neighbors compare, Lynbrook and Hewlett-Woodmere school districts have also seen an increase in the number of low-income students, but that’s as far as the similarities go.
Both are predominantly white school districts with a percentage of low-income students of 16% for Lynbrook and 27% for Hewlett-Woodmere. Neither district is susceptible to environmental stress, according to reports.
Ultimately, all of this is important because there is a need to “redirect our focus from the students’ abilities to the learning environment in which they are trying to succeed,” Ildefonso said.
“Do our students really receive all the tools to succeed? »