Pennsylvania School Conducts Segregation Experiment

01.28.11 | Sarah Harnisch

A Pennsylvania high school is defending its decision to temporarily segregate students by race and gender to improve the academic performance of its black students. McCaskey East High School in Lancaster has drawn controversy for its experiment, which separates black students from the rest of the school for a few minutes each day, then further separates them by gender and places each group with a mentor. The separation happens for six minutes every day and 20 minutes twice a month. The move has drawn criticism from some educators, who say it raises the spectre of racial segregation. But McCaskey principal Bill Jimenez says research has shown that same-race classes with strong same-race role models often leads to better academic achievement. When they decided to try this experiment, only a third of the school's black high schoolers could pass a reading test.