Boston is the latest city facing resegregation in its public school system, which experts fear will worsen existing racial and economic inequalities.
A new report in the Boston Globe alleges that 60 percent of the city's schools qualify as "intensely segregated," meaning that 90 percent of its seats are filled by students of color. That number is up from twenty years ago, when 42 percent of the city's schools were intensely segregated.
Paul Reville, former state secretary of education and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said that the situation reflects how segregated Boston is more generally. A 2015 survey found that the Boston metropolitan area is the seventh most racially segregated in the country.
"The larger question here is we define our school boundaries by our geographic community boundaries," Reville said. "We are very segregated by housing and by community. We sort of accept that as an unmovable premise — which it probably is, politically, in our system — but that creates the segregation that we're decrying in this critique."
Reville said one way to level the playing field is by investing in programs like after-school education, summer program, and making sure all schools have nurses and health care professionals.
"Schools that serve large percentages of economically disadvantaged students have got a lot of social capital to make up for that their kids don't get but the kids in more privileged neighborhoods do get," he explained.
"Beginning to balance that out, those schools ought actually to have more by way of programs and support than those with high concentrations privileged kids. We have it almost reversed now," he continued.