Desegregation court cases and school demographic data

The most recent research demonstrates that school segregation between blacks and whites declined greatly in the 1970s, partly due to desegregation court cases, but then remained at a standstill since that time.  White flight had only temporary and moderate countervailing effects.  Large disparities still prevail in the nature of schools attended by students of different racial/ethnic background.  Charter schools appear to have had no overall effect on segregation or disparities – and our analyses suggest that any differences in performance between charter schools and regular public schools are due to selectivity in who chooses to enroll in them.  In affluent districts, students in charter schools perform worse, but in poor districts they perform better.

These findings are documented in the following peer-reviewed articles:

John R. Logan, Weiwei Zhang and Deirdre Oakley.  2017.  “Court Orders, White Flight, and School District Segregation, 1970-2010”  Social Forces 95, 3: 1049-1075. 
John R. Logan and Julia Burdick-Will.  2015.  “School Segregation, Charter Schools, and Access to Quality EducationJournal of Urban Affairs 38, 3: 323-343. DOI: 10.1111/juaf.12246.
John R. Logan, Elisabeta Minca, and Sinem Adar.  2012.  “The Geography of Inequality: Why Separate Means Unequal in American Public Schools”  Sociology of Education 85, 3: 287-301.
John R. Logan, Deirdre Oakley, and Jacob Stowell.  2008.  “School Segregation in Metropolitan Regions, 1970-2000: The Impacts of Policy Choices on Public EducationAmerican Journal of Sociology, 113 (May): 1611-1644.

This website provides the information on which these studies are based .  It includes data for the period 1970-2010 about desegregation court cases, trends in racial composition and segregation of elementary schools, and additional information about poverty, teacher-student ratios, and performance on standardized state tests.

For every U.S. school district, information on racial and ethnic composition of the elementary student population for available years, and summary indices of school segregation and disparities are posted.  Due to the importance of desegregation mandates in the early decades after 1956, court cases that involved the district are listed, plus a link to the Westlaw text for the court decision when available. 

Data are also provided for metropolitan regions. Ignoring district boundaries we aggregate information on all elementary schools in a region and calculate the overall racial composition, racial/ethnic segregation, and performance of schools attended by the average white, black, Hispanic, and Asian student.

Click here to select a district or metropolitan region to view racial/ethnic composition in every decade, plus data on segregation and disparities.

Click here to select a district or metropolitan region to view desegregation court cases.

These demographic and test score data are also available through an interactive mapping system: Map US Schools. Click here to enter the map system.

Several additional unpublished reports based on these data, dealing with questions about school segregation and racial/ethnic disparities, can be downloaded from here.