KU maps shed light on persistent racial segregation of K-12 schools
TOPEKA – Researchers at the University of Kansas have produced colorful interactive maps providing visual representations of an increasingly multicultural society that sustains a K-12 school system characterized by racial segregation.
It’s a reality educators and geographers reduce to a collection of red, green, blue and purple dots that have raised complex unanswered black and white questions about the racial isolation of thousands of schools across states. -United. KU researchers expect the images to be useful to policy makers who strive to provide equitable educational opportunities to all students, regardless of residential postcode.
Bryan Mann, assistant professor of education policy and leadership studies, said education geographies offered representations of racial demographics in schools across the country. The publicly accessible website features maps for all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of segregation in K-12 education.
It allows users to dig down to the community or school district level. Look no further to illustrate this ability than mapping the bands of predominantly white districts surrounding predominantly non-white schools in Topeka and Kansas City.
âMy goal and hope is that people and researchers are starting to see these patterns and wonder why these changes are happening,â Mann said. âFor example, why are there so many charter schools here? Or why have so many schools remained racially isolated? Hope people will take an interest in these cards. Different states experience diversity differently. We now take a look at what these changes mean for schools.
Reports from the US Census Bureau show that the United States has become an increasingly multicultural society. Students in American schools can no longer be legally separated by politics or law. However, the KU mapping project relied on the American Community Survey 2015-2019 and the 2020 census to affirm stark racial divisions in schools.
The mapping raised questions in terms of the flight of whites to the suburbs, the influx of immigrants, the economic transformation of a region, or other factors most often assessed by academics through the lens of history. , political science and business rather than geography.
âWe want to help people explore the places they live, the places they want to research,â Mann said. “I see this as a starting point to explore these population changes and as a way to see these changes in depth.”
Mann collaborated on the mapping and data tracking site with KU graduate students Chen Liang, Kenneth Ekpetere, and Titus Maxwell from the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences.
Mann said that education policy makers are expected to be drawn to the site along with teachers and the curious.
âWe want it to be a publicly available tool for anyone interested in using it,â he said. âIf teachers want to understand the populations in their schools, they can. Or, if they want to help their students understand their communities, they can.
Mann said education geographies will also serve as a repository for related academic research. For example, he said, the archives included a 2021 report co-authored by Mann that examined why Alabama schools returned to a separate imprint after moving to desegregate during the Civil Rights era.
In that study, he said, the decline in school integration was linked to demographic trends and the economic impact of industries departing from areas of Alabama.