The Charlotte region has undergone dramatic changes in the past 25 years. The population of Mecklenburg County has more than doubled since 1990. Due to the end of a decades-long program of school integration and increasingly segregated housing, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have become the most racially and socio-economically segregated school district in North Carolina.
We’ve seen this trend at the same time as Charlotte’s population growth has been led by the explosion of the hispanic community—which grew from 1.3% of the county in 1990 to 12.7% in 2014. Now, non-hispanic Whites now constitute less than half of Charlotte’s population at 48.7%—and only 39.1% of the school-aged children in Mecklenburg County are non-hispanic Whites.
CMS is the second largest school district in the state and 18th largest in the country. And its extreme segregation affects the opportunity its students have. One in three CMS schools are segregated by poverty and half are segregated by race. Combined, they have a graduation rate almost 20 percent lower than CMS’s most White and affluent schools.
At a time when Charlotte is debating the future of student assignment, it has to reckon with the inequities in its public schools.