The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA faces the continuing challenges.
The UCLA Civil Rights Project was created due to huge gaps in basic research on affirmative action. Most of the national focus on civil rights happened a half century ago and was centered on Black-White issues in the South and in some big cities. Decades after that period, an enormous wave of Latino and Asian immigration has transformed American society, and racial change is now overwhelmingly suburban.
UCLA Civil Rights Project has historically worked on such much-needed research. An important prong of research at the Civil Rights Project documents the resegregation of America’s schools. Almost all the school integration progress of the past half century has been lost, and the gaps in college access have actually increased.
Current work of the Civil Rights Project includes new research showing the reversal of civil rights era gains, and an increase in school segregation in the South. According to the study, Black and Latino students in the South are increasingly isolated in intensely segregated schools and are doubly segregated in schools serving low-income students. CRP research over the last few years shows resegregation of school districts in Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida.
This year, CRP released a study on the school enrollment patterns in Washington, D.C.’s most rapidly gentrifying areas, which have seen a decline in racial segregation, more so in traditional public schools than in charter schools. The report’s authors caution, however, that while the trend of declining racial segregation in schools in some of the city’s most gentrifying areas is promising, a high level of racial segregation remains, and substantial progress is still needed to ensure that these newly integrating neighborhoods result in integrated schools and inclusive communities.
Another key focus of research for CRP is on school discipline and its disproportionate impacts on students of color. In 2017, a CRP study, “Massachusetts Students Missed More Than 156,000 Days of Instruction Due to Discipline” showed that the overuse of suspensions in the Commonwealth’s schools is harming educational opportunities for all students, but with the burden impacting Black students and students with disabilities more than other groups. The study is the first ever to quantify the school-level days of missed instruction due to discipline, reporting both the Black/White gap and the impact on students with disabilities.
Above: Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.