An evacuee student peeks out of her bus as she arrives at Douglass Elementary School September 8, 2005 in Houston, Texas. About 175 students are registered at Douglass which was closed for budgetary reasons, but the Houston Independence School District (HISD) reopened the facility for children of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.
An evacuee student peeks out of her bus as she arrives at Douglass Elementary School September 8, 2005 in Houston, Texas. About 175 students are registered at Douglass which was closed for budgetary reasons, but the Houston Independence School District (HISD) reopened the facility for children of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. - 
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The NAACP starts a three day education summit today in North Carolina. The civil rights group is taking on what it calls the re-segregation of schools in this country.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.


AMY SCOTT: The NAACP says school segregation is at its worst in four decades. Beth Glenn is the group's national education director.

BETH GLENN: Two in five students of color attend schools that are intensely segregated. These are schools where 90 percent or more of the students are non-white students.

One reason is the demise of busing programs designed to integrate schools by race. Since the 1990s, the U.S. Supreme Court has limited such efforts. Racial segregation has also led to higher concentrations of low-income students, a problem made worse by the tough economy. Mark Dorosin at the University of North Carolina's Center for Civil Rights says segregated schools get fewer resources, and attract fewer qualified teachers.

MARK DOROSIN: There's substantial evidence that shows that when you have racially isolated, high poverty schools, the quality of education in those schools suffers.

Several school districts have tried integrating students based on their socioeconomic status. Richard Kahlenberg is a fellow at the Century Foundation. He says the strategy is legal and effective.

RICHARD KAHLENBERG: The research never found that African American kids will do better sitting next to whites. It was always that low-income kids of all races do better in a middle class school environment.

It's no accident the NAACP's summit is being held in Raleigh where the Wake County school board recently ditched its efforts to integrate schools by economic status. The NAACP is fighting that decision.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports