“26% Diverse …”

The following increasingly typical but still revealing passage occurs in an otherwise interesting Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss on the history of the integration of private schools in Washington:

In 1965, there were 19 independent schools in the area enrolling a total of 120 black children, a tiny fraction of total enrollment. Many of them were the children of foreign diplomats or World Bank employees rather than permanent local residents. Today, the 84 schools in the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington are on average 26 percent diverse, compared with the national average of 20 percent among the national association’s nearly 1,200 independent schools.

I suppose that if progress continues at the present rate eventually Washington’s independent school’s can aspire to emulate many urban public schools by becoming nearly 100% “diverse.”

Even now, however, it appears that across the nation as a whole blacks are drastically “overrepresented” in independent schools. Since blacks make up a little over 10% of the U.S. population, if they really make up 20% of the independent school students they are drastically “overrepresented” and some combination of whites, Asians, Hispanics, and others are inevitably “underrepresented.” In fact, however, a check of some statistics provided by the National Association of Independent Schools reveals that it is all “students of color” who make up 20.6% of NAIS students. Blacks are only 5.3%, but that is twice the number of Hispanics (2.8%) even though Hispanics now outnumber blacks in the U.S. Something clearly must be done.

Maybe a beginning would be to stop using “diverse” as a synonym for “black.” In addition, if parity of ethnic representation becomes the standard against which everything must be judged, blacks are going to have to move back toward the back of the bus for a while to make room for Hispanics.

Say What? (3)

  1. David May 19, 2004 at 6:00 pm | | Reply

    It was meaningless to compare the per cent minority students in Washington DC vs national average, since Washington has a more heavily black population.

    We often see misleading statistics used to unfairly make a charge of racism. In this case, the statistical slight-of-hand tended to unfairly refute such a charge. It looks as if the reporter simply wrote what the NAIS gave her.

  2. Superdestroyer May 19, 2004 at 7:27 pm | | Reply

    The best statistic for the Washington DC area is that Prince George County Maryland just east of the District of Columbia has the greaterst concentration of college educated, white collar blacks in the US. Yet its schools system is hardly better than inner city schools of Baltimore, Maryland.

    Even with all of the affluence, every few private schools that emphasize academics exist there.

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