Solutions to Segregation in Long Island

October 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

A new study out last week offers some interesting ideas about how to deal with school segregation in Long Island and its associated problems.

In Gangs in Garden City, I wrote about how the patchwork of small, highly segregated school districts in Long Island was exacerbating the gang problem. Although Nassau and Suffolk Counties have some of the best schools in the country, they are also the home of several troubled districts with high concentrations of minorities living in poverty, where teachers and administrators have struggled for years to lift dismal graduation rates and test scores in overcrowded school buildings, which in some cases are plagued with asbestos, rodents and mold. These are the schools where many immigrant youth have landed over the past decade. They are also the places where the gangs have thrived.

The study compares five school districts in Long Island, and the disparities the researchers found are often extreme. The study argues that the “ceiling” of achievement in the struggling, high poverty districts is well below the achievement “floor” for the high-achieving districts, which are mostly white and wealthy. But the lead reseracher, in an op-ed in Newsday, suggests some interesting solutions, from creating inter-district magnet schools to the more radical option of consolidating school districts. Find the full study here and a Newsday op-ed by Amy Stuart Wells, the lead researcher, here.

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