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Troubled school report: Segregation up, education down

"And don't tell me that our children don't sign up for it because they do!"
/ Source: KSNV

"And don't tell me that our children don't sign up for it because they do!"

Strong reactions Thursday night as new information is revealed about some troubled schools in Las Vegas.

Located in the heart of the city, a half-dozen elementary schools are the subject of a distressing new report, showing increased racial segregation and decreased test scores among poor students.

The schools, referred to as the "prime six" schools, have already been identified as needing a lot of improvement. And now, an in-depth study shows the issue of segregation is more serious than ever.

News 3's reports that the schools already get quite a bit of extra funding; the problem has been evident for years. But a 59-page report written by a UCLA professor and his research team highlights how this older, low-income part of Las Vegas is challenged when it comes to educating young children.

The elementary schools in question are:

  • Booker
  • Carson
  • Fitzgerald
  • Kelly
  • McCall
  • Wendell Williams

And those who have a long history in the area are distressed over what the study reveals.

"I read the report," says Frank Hawkins. "I was very offended. I cried when I read the report."

People are offended that so many black and Hispanic children are underachieving. And they didn't hesitate to let the Clark County School Board hear their anger:

"This is crazy!"

"It does not take a rocket scientist to see this district does not care about minority student achievement."

The UCLA professor who compiled the data showed that the schools are attended largely by poor, minority students. It's a situation that has resulted in cultural and language issues that have impeded school performance.

"It's very hard to learn in a segregated setting," says Professor Gary Orfield. "And this segregation is almost never segregation just by race. It is segregation by poverty as well. And that's what we call triple segregation."

Now, the task is to find a solution to this problem. But parents say bussing students never helped them to learn better.

"Once I got on the busses, it was done."

The report makes only a few general suggestions, such as building more magnet schools, hiring more qualified and experienced teachers, and better educating parents about the educational options available.

This area, known as West Las Vegas, has had a long history of struggling to overcome poverty and racial segregation. The professor that oversaw this research says he's seen the same thing all over the country.

Two of the schools studied, Booker and Wendell Williams, have recently made some encouraging improvements in test scores. But researchers say all six of the schools studied are at risk of being increasingly isolated from the rest of Las Vegas.