Traditionally, discrimination and segregation is used against people based on race, religion, gender and other such characteristics. Generally, as in the case of racial segregation in the US, the victims tended to be of lower socio-economic status. However, it wasn't segregation of affluent and not-affluent - in the Jim Crow South, poor whites weren't legally segregated from rich white people. It wasn't strictly a matter of income.
There's always been another kind of "segregation". The more affluent can send their children to better private schools. They have to pay for the privilege - but that also means the less fortunate don't have that option. The affluent can even get better public schools for their kids by buying a house in an affluent town where they know their school taxes won't go to poor students. More recently, public school systems have also begun associating with "charter schools". These schools don't get a randomly picked group of public school students. Whichever process they use to get their students tends to result in students who begin with one or the other kind of advantage.
An article in a Connecticut newspaper
discusses a new development. A few Connecticut school districts recently announced plans to create segregated schools "for the gifted". It appears that the determination of who is "gifted" would be primarily based on standardized tests. As the article notes, standardized tests are not a good indicator of a child's long-term potential. It can simply be a matter of a child reaching one stage in development sooner than most children - but a difference which evens out within a couple of years.
The article's writer - an attorney for the Education Law Center - informs us:
Decades of research have proven that standardized tests are an unreliable and inaccurate measure of student achievement and do not measure student potential. In fact, the data reveal that the strongest correlation is between test scores and socio-economic status.Today, there's a tendency of more affluent families to push to get their children into premier pre-schools. This could make their early test scores look even better than affluent children in the past.
The segregation is not explicitly between affluent and not-affluent. As a result, it may not be 100% affluent in the "gifted" schools and not 100% not-affluent in the regular schools, but that is the direction it's moving in. And while standardized test scores will be the primary selection criteria, additional criteria could be used to make it even more strongly a segregation of affluent and not-affluent. The public schools will start subsidizing superior education for those born into more fortunate families. With school budgets being squeezed today, it seems likely that will mean less for the schools everyone else goes to. That will hinder most students from reaching their potential, while perpetuating the privileges of a few. And while minorities continue to be lower on the socio-economic scale, they will disproportionately be in the inferior schools.
The fact this is happening in Connecticut is even more significant:
While the equal protection clauses in most state constitutions only bar discrimination, Connecticut's expressly bans segregation as well as discrimination.Connecticut's legal history makes clear this applies to both intentional and unintentional segregation. Even with such a legal foundation, these moves are taking place.
And, even before this latest move, other moves into inequality had been growing in Connecticut:
In recent years the state has dramatically increased funding for privately run charter schools that routinely exclude non-English-speaking students and students with disabilities.While I'm not aware of similar moves in other states, it would be surprising if Connecticut was alone.
Steps such as these can only contribute to making America's great wealth inequality even worse - and at the same time reduce the number of Americans who have the kinds of education which are needed for the 21st century.