Panel Paper: School Segregation in the Era of Immigration and School Choice: North Carolina, 1998-2016

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Marriott Balcony B - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Charles Clotfelter1, Helen Ladd1, Steven W. Hemelt2 and Mavzuna Turaeva1, (1)Duke University, (2)University of North Carolina

We document patterns and trends in school segregation between 1998 and 2016 in North Carolina, a racially diverse state that has experienced rapid immigration. As in other states of the South, the period of court orders enforcing racial balance has given way not only to tacit acceptance of residentially based school segregation but also to policies that offer parents alternatives to traditional public schools. Following the prevailing practice of social scientists, we measure segregation by the degree of imbalance across schools, using counties and metropolitan areas as basic geographical units. We differentiate students according not only to their racial/ethnic group but also to their income. Unlike many studies of school segregation, we take into account private school students as well as students who attend charter schools and traditional public schools.

For the state as a whole, we find that white/nonwhite segregation has increased, most dramatically in several of the state’s largest metropolitan areas. Likewise, Hispanic students became more segregated from non-Hispanic students. To our surprise, however, segregation of black students from all other students declined overall. Using an economic delineation, we find low income students becoming more segregated from other students. We decompose segregation in the state’s metropolitan areas, separating the portions due to private schools, charter schools, racial disparities between traditional public school districts, and disparities within districts.

Demographic trends over the period made things more difficult for white families seeking to have their children attend predominantly white schools. Still, private schools and charter schools offered many such families a way to achieve that goal.