There’s at least one metric by which urban schools in Rhode Island equal their suburban and rural counterparts – racial segregation. People of color comprise 80 percent of the combined student bodies at public schools in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket while the rest of the state’s public schools are 78 percent white, according to data compiled by this year’s annual Kids Count Factbook.
Only 10 cities or towns have less than an 8 to 2 ratio of racial diversity: Cranston, East Providence, Johnston, Middletown, Newport, North Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, West Warwick, and Woonsocket. Cranston public schools are the most diverse, with 54 percent white students and 47 percent students of color, followed by Newport schools, which are 57 percent students of color and 43 percent white students.
There are 12 towns with student bodies that are more than 90 percent white: Burrillville, Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton, Coventry, Exeter, West Greenwich, Foster, Glocester, Jamestown, Little Compton, and Scituate, which has the whitest public schools in the state, with 96 percent of students, followed by Little Compton (95%), Glocester(95%), Foster(94%), then Jamestown(94%).
Providence, which skews the statistic in the first paragraph, has the least white public schools in the state, with 92 percent of students identifying as people of color. 84 percent of Central Falls schools identify as a student of color, and in Pawtucket 64 percent of the students are people of color.
Kids Count is a local non-profit that seeks “to improve health, safety, education, economic well-being, and development of Rhode Island’s children” through “independent, credible, comprehensive information on Rhode Island’s children,” according to its website. Its annual Factbook, of which this is the 24th, “is one of fifty state-level projects designed to provide a detailed community-by-community picture of the condition of children,” according to the report.