BOSTON (AP) -- Almost 50 years after state-sponsored school segregation was outlawed, public schools are becoming increasingly divided by race, even as minority populations increase nationwide, according to a new report.
The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University found integration between whites and blacks to be decreasing or steady in all but a handful of the nation's largest school districts over the last 14 years.
The report's authors say the "resegregation" trend is a result of recent court rulings that dismantled race-based desegregation laws, and also reflects discouragement over stalled integration efforts.
"I think a lot of people think that nothing can be done, and the efforts have failed," said Chungmei Lee, a co-author of the report.
Lee said integration is crucial to improve education and prepare students to live in a diverse culture.
Attorney Chester Darling, who represents parents fighting a desegregation policy in Lynn, Mass., questioned the study's assumptions about diversity's value. He also said any new push to create school diversity must be driven by parents and not government.
"When you have a government involved in enforcing a particular form of diversity, then you have a government making decisions that are illegal," he said.
The 20 most rapidly resegregating school districts are concentrated in the South, with eight in Texas and three in Georgia.
But the most stable districts are also in the South, the report noted, in what it said might be a lingering effect of defunct integration plans that were once heavily concentrated in the South.
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