Splintering school districts: Understanding the link between segregation and fragmentation

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51 Scopus citations


This article examines the process of fragmentation to understand how the process of establishing new school districts results in high metropolitan-area segregation. Using educational and census data, the article examines how the political process of creating new school districts in Jefferson County, Alabama, changed the nature of segregation. School segregation remained high from 1960 to 2005, but while in the late 1960s segregation of students was predominantly within districts, by 2005 segregation was primarily between districts. Over time, school district boundary lines gained meaning in terms of the characteristics of the district residents. In creating separate districts, local control has the same effect as earlier de jure laws of maintaining racial segregation in the Birmingham area, with few prospects for overcoming boundaries that divide students and opportunities along racial lines. Local control within the current judicial context will define separate populations and maintain or increase metropolitan segregation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-909
Number of pages41
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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