The State of Public Education in NC: Racial Inequity

Last week, we published a report highlighting the erosion of North Carolina's public education system following the 2008 recession and the 2010 Republican takeover in the General Assembly. Today, we look further into the state of racial equity in public schools around the state and explore how disparities in race and socioeconomic status have caused students of color to fall further behind. 

In North Carolina, the achievement gap between wealthy and low-income students widened more than any other state between 2011 and 2014. This has been partially due to the resegregation of school districts as desegregation tactics have been abandoned in favor of the "neighborhood school" model. 

  • For residents living in majority Hispanic and African American census blocks, the chance of their children attending racially-identifiable, high poverty, or low-performing schools is dramatically higher than for those in majority white census block.
  • Over the past two decades, the share of Black and Hispanic students attending majority-minority and intensely-segregated schools statewide has grown significantly. 

North Carolina charter schools have further segregated students. 

  • Roughly two-thirds of all charter schools in the state are either disproportionately white or disproportionately students of color.

Students of color have disparately higher rates of punishment, such as short- and long-term suspension, than white students.

  • Although suspension rates have dropped overall, the disproportionate representation of students of color in disciplinary action has stayed the same. 
  • Black studnets are four times as likely to be suspended as their white counterparts. 
  • Students of color are judged more harshly for subjective offenses, such as disrespect and aggression. 

Students of color underperform their white counterparts in nearly every educational metric, even when controlling for factors like economic disparities and limited language proficiency.

  • Students of color remain grossly underrepresented in college prep, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate programs and courses. 
  • Latinx students have the highest dropout rate, but only White and Asian/Pacific Islander students have dropout rates below the statewide average and are the only groups that saw a decrease in dropout rate between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
  • While 48.8 percent of students statewide are “college and career ready,” only 29.7 percent of Black students are “college and career ready.”


See the full report here