A Separate Education: The Segregation of American Students and Teachers

  • Erica Frankenberg Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA
  • Genevieve Siegel-Hawley Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA
Keywords: Desegregation, Segregation, Race, Teacher Segregation, Teaching, Civil Rights, Legal Issues, Education Policy


Despite the obvious connection between the two, student and teacher segregation are rarely examined together. To help fill that gap, this essay explores what is known about the extent of interracial exposure for students and teachers in U.S. public schools. This article reviews evidence underscoring the paramount importance of school integration. A description of the legal landscape governing desegregation follows, as well as a discussion of why current patterns of racial isolation persist. The essay next describes the demographics and segregation of today's students and teachers. In particular, the essay focuses on the growing segregation of students of color, the lingering isolation of white students, and the ways in which the overwhelmingly white teaching force reinforces patterns of student segregation. We close with a discussion of the implications of these trends.