The College Post
The College Post -- Covering Higher Education in America

Segregation Forever? Racism Limits Educational Opportunities for Minorities

A report from The Education Trust, a non-profit that promotes academic achievement for students at all levels, exposes the systematic and continued racism that limits the educational opportunity for Black and Latino students in the United States. Alarmingly, the representation in the country’s most selective public universities and colleges has gotten worse since 2000, according to the report.

Titled Segregation Forever?, the report focuses on why policymakers and higher education leaders need to reflect on racial diversity. Relying on US Census and federal education data, Ed Trust assigned the 101 most selective public institution grades based on the percentage of enrolled Black and Latino students.

“It is time for public college presidents to take substantive anti-racist action that matches their soaring anti-racist rhetoric,” said Andrew Nichols, Senior Director for Higher Education research and data analytics at Ed Trust, in the report.

Representation Matters

The report brought to light that colleges in states with high Black and Latino populations displayed the poorest access. Of particular concern is that institutions in the nine states where 75 percent of the nation’s Latino population lives had the worst access. 

Over three-quarters of the 101 colleges received an F grade since the percentage of Black students to the Black population decreased by 60 percent since 2000. Only three institutions based in Kentucky and West Virginia did not receive failing grades for racial disparities.

Just one out of seven colleges received an A for the percentage of Latino students on campus compared to the state population.

Role of Selective Institutions

Public colleges and universities have the financial resources, facilities, faculties, and can offer financial aid which is helpful for students from Black, Latino, or low-income backgrounds.

The 101 colleges are taxpayer-supported, according to the report, and the underrepresentation of Black and Latino students who deserve access to opportunities can have negative implications on the campus environment.

Steps to Increase Access

To ensure more students of color have the chance to attend selective public colleges, the report introduces 10 recommendations to policymakers and campus leaders. These include adopting goals, increasing access to guidance counselors, deciding admissions by including race, repealing state bans on affirmative action, and increasing financial aid to Black and Latino students.

Also included are revamping recruitment strategies, enhancing on-campus racial climates, equitable outcome-based funding, federal accountability, and reducing the role of standardized tests like the SAT or ACT in admissions.

Moving beyond the rhetoric that dwells on the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity towards action is the need of the hour.

Taking such action is long overdue, the report said, highlighting that the need to act is now more necessary than ever because of the “the expected impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the enrollment patterns of students of color.”