(ThinkProgress) -A recent desegregation order from the U.S. Department of Justice includes a lot of the checkmarks experts say are important for school districts to meet to reach meaningful school integration, but it is also only one school district in a nation of schools that have failed to integrate after Brown v. Board of Education.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana approved a three-year plan for desegregation in its lawsuit against the Avoyelles Parish School Board. The desegregation case was filed as far back as 1967. In 2008, district officials planned to realign its schools. During the approval process, the U.S. District Judge in Alexandria said the superintendent and board members should hire an expert to get the district to fulfill certain requirements, such as desegregation of transportation, student assignment, teaching staffs and extracurricular activities.
Desegregation in Louisiana
The consent decree calls the district “unitary,” which means the school is desegregated but an outside expert will have to monitor the district’s progress for the next three years. In the entire 5,500 student-school district, slightly more students are white than black, but at individual schools, the racial breakdown varies widely, according to the Associated Press. At Bunkie Elementary Learning Academy, the student population is 82 percent black and at Larfargue Elementary School, the population is 80 percent white.
The increased focus on desegregation in Louisiana is due in part to the state’s voucher program, which some critics say is making segregation worse by giving parents incentives to take their children out of public schools and put them in schools with children of similar racial makeup.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) introduced the voucher program, which would direct public funds toward private schools but a state court ruled the funding mechanism was unconstitutional, so he found funds elsewhere to continue the program.
The voucher program has been in court battles for some time now, with a federal judge ruling the state may be required to give more information on the details of the program in 2014, such as enrollment and racial breakdown, due to a 1975 court order and a 1985 consent decree in a desegregation case. Now a federal appeals court in New Orleans will hear arguments from pro-voucher groups on whether they need to provide reports on the program.
Segregation in the United States
But segregation of schools isn’t just a problem for Louisiana or the South in general, despite the focus on school segregation in the Southern U.S. over the years. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that across the country, 43 percent of Latino students and 38 percent of black students go to schools where fewer than 10 percent of their classmates are white, and more than one in seven black and Latino students attend schools where less than 1 percent of their classmates are white. The report also noted that schools with high-minority populations usually have low-income populations, making the schools economically homogeneous as well.
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