Hispanic students face increasing segregation in the nation's public schools - particularly in the West - and could become the most isolated minority in the country, a study warned.
The report released Thursday by the National School Boards Association also found signs of erosion in the integregation of black students in the South, but said the region still remains the most desegregated in the country."The march to school integregation is certainly not over, and school systems are finding there are no quick and easy solutions," said James Oglesby, president-elect of the association.
Overall, the study found white enrollment decreased by 16.5 percent from 1968 to 1986 while the number of blacks and Hispanics in public schools increased by 5.4 percent and 102.9 percent, respectively.
If current trends continue, the study said, U.S. public schools will become a minority system where Hispanics encounter more segregation and isolation than blacks.
The study attributed the growing segregation of Hispanics to the failure of government and civil rights groups to push integration and the large concentration of Hispanics in a limited number of states, particularly California and Texas.
According to the report, which examined regional and national desegregation figures from 1968 to 1986, the segregation of Hispanics has increased most dramatically in the West and Midwest.
Between 1980-1986, the number of Hispanic students attending minority schools in the West increased from 63.5 percent to 69.9 percent and the percentage of Hispanics in non-white schools in the Midwest rose from 46.6 percent to 54.3 percent.
On a state-by-state basis, New York remained the most segregated state in the nation for Hispanics, largely due to the heavy concentration of Puerto Rican students in New York City.
Among black students, the study uncovered signs of "resegregation" in parts of the South while the Northeast and Midwest - typically the most segregated school districts in the country - made modest gains.
The report found the largest setback occurred in Alabama, where the number of black students at predominantly white schools dropped by 8 percent from 1980-1986 while the percentage at segregated schools rose by 9.3 percent.
"We made the largest efforts in the South and had the biggest impact but we're beginning to see a resegregation," said University of Chicago professor Gary Orfield, the author of the study.