Local
6:42 am
Thu October 3, 2013

UNC Center for Civil Rights Study Highlights Racial Disparities in Public Education

Listen to the audio version here.

A staggeringly high number of minority students in New Hanover and Pender Counties live near high-poverty elementary schools. 

That’s according to a recently-published report by the UNC Center for Civil Rights – part of the University of North Carolina’s School of Law.  The Inclusion Project examines statewide racial disparities from several angles, including proximity to polluting facilities, access to affordable housing, and voting rights. 

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It’s the wealthiest counties in the state that display the most striking racial disparities, according to the Inclusion Project, a study documenting the data behind segregated communities in North Carolina.  Peter Gilbert, author of the study, says “excluded communities” are those largely-minority groups that are left out of the political, social, and economic life of the state. 

And equal access to quality public education, says Gilbert, is an issue for the Cape Fear region.

“What we found, for example, in Pender County only 52% of the population has a high-poverty school as its closest elementary school.  But 81% of residents of these excluded communities had their closest school as a high-poverty school." 

In New Hanover County, the disparity is even greater, says Gilbert.   91% of residents of these racially-excluded communities have a high-poverty elementary school as their closest school as opposed to only 43% for the county as a whole. 

If school board members study what’s going in the county, says Gilbert, and study the success of integration in other places…

"They’ll realize that part of building a healthy, growing, and thriving society has to be educating all of the children in the county and that the only way to really do that in an equal way to make real the promise of equal opportunity may be to make some difficult choices." 

A spokeswoman for New Hanover County Schools said that school officials have not yet verified the study results.