Rethinking the Economic and Racial Composition of Community Colleges
May 28, 2013 09:15 AM
A recently released paper by member Sara Goldrick-Rab, School Integration and the Open Door Philosophy: Rethinking the Economic and Racial Composition of Community Colleges, documents the extent of segregation at community colleges. Goldrick-Rab, an associate professor of education policy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the study’s co-author, shows that community colleges reflect the area they serve. Only one-quarter of community colleges can be considered racially integrated, and hover near an average of 37 percent of their students being from minority groups, the study found. About half are integrated along socioeconomic lines.
The paper, co-written with Peter Kinsley, a researcher at Wisconsin, indicates that fully 75 percent of the variation in racial composition in the two-year sector is directly attributable to the racial composition of their surrounding geographic locales.
“The problems of those communities resulting from neighborhood segregation and the concentration of poverty are simply transferred up the educational pipeline,” wrote Kinsley and Goldrick-Rab. Segregated community colleges with larger proportions of needy students "not only receive fewer monetary resources, but they likely produce less student learning.”
The study’s findings are mixed about the relative resources at colleges based on their racial and ethnic mixes. But as a general rule it found that the “more minority students a college enrolls, the fewer organizational advantages it enjoys.”
The paper is also featured in a recent article by Insider Higher Ed on race and inequity.