News & Politics

Report: Schools in the Washington Suburbs Are Far More Integrated Than Schools in DC

Report: Schools in the Washington Suburbs Are Far More Integrated Than Schools in DC
Illustration via iStock.

Public schools in DC suburbs tend to be far more integrated than those within the District, according to a new report by the Civil Rights Project. DC schools remain majority black, around 67 percent, with Latinos following far behind at 16.5 percent. As more white people (millennials) move into the Chocolate City, their children–if they have any–are enrolling in public schools at an increasing rate. The number of white students enrolled in DC private schools has changed little since 2001, while the number of students of color in private schools has plummeted as students (and some schools) switched to charters: Black students made up 55 percent of private school students in 2001-2; they made up 26 percent in 2011-12.

Segregation generally yields a negative impact on educational outcomes for students. Almost every other jurisdiction in the DC area, from Montgomery County to Manassas, has a public school system that’s better integrated than DC’s.

Statistics at eight jurisdictions outside DC illustrate this integration discrepancy. The Civil Rights Project’s research considers school systems with the most balanced demographics integrated while those with starker differences are more segregated.

Source: The Civil Rights Project. All graphics by Manyun Zou.

Prince George’s is the only county with African American enrollment close to DC’s, at 65.8 percent. Both school systems have significantly lower white and Asian enrollment, with the Maryland county (7.6 percent) having almost half the enrollment of DC (14.3 percent). The Latino enrollment jumps 8 percent in Prince George’s, with 24.5 percent.

Source: The Civil Rights Project.

The city of Manassas, while small, has a majority of Latino students: 53 percent.

Source: The Civil Rights Project.

White and Asian students account for more than half of enrollment at each of these three Virginia counties: 55.5 percent, 72.3 percent, and 62.3 percent, respectively.

Source: The Civil Rights Project.

These three jurisdictions come closest to the report’s idea of a balanced, integrated public school system, though it says all districts “showed significant patterns of school segregation.” The report describes relatively tiny Alexandria as a district with “positive potential by enrolling a balanced number of each racial group,” despite the very low number of Asian enrollment at 4.9 percent. Montgomery County seems to have a better balance of proportional diversity, although, like Prince William, its white enrollment is highest.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that incoming white residents were not sending their children to public school at an increasing rate. This is incorrect. The enrollment of white students in public schools alone in 2002-3 was 2,905, accounting for 4.7%, and in 2013-14 that number increased to 5,413, making up 12.5%.

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.