Massachusetts’ failure to forestall growing segregation

Simone Ngongi-Lukula featured in the Boston Globe

May 23, 2022

Growing up in New Haven, I went to magnet schools that drew kids from surrounding suburbs. Parents chose these schools because they were well-funded, with state-of-the-art buildings, innovative curriculums, and diverse student bodies. I was fortunate to benefit from the high-quality education that they offered. If I’d been raised in Massachusetts, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.

Despite the well-established benefits of magnet schools, Massachusetts defunded all support for them when courts relaxed pressure on schools to desegregate in the 1990s. The state didn’t just abandon efforts to create more integration through magnets, it also gave up entirely on voluntary integration, leaving only the METCO program, which was fiercely defended by suburbs. Suburban residents there wanted to feel like they supported equity, even as they fought housing projects that would have created affordable homes for families with limited means.

The state’s failure to provide leadership for the past two decades has left Massachusetts schools highly segregated by race and ethnicity. They are also increasingly segregated by income…

Meet The Author

Simone Ngongi-Lukula

Former Education Equity Fellow, MassINC

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