05/04/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Racial Mis-education of America's Youth

A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that enrollment in suburban schools by minority students has seen explosive growth.

The study authored by Richard Fry reports that "the student population of America's suburban public schools has shot up by 3.4 million in the past decade." Ninety-nine percent of that increase was driven solely by Latino, black and Asian students. In 1993-94 the student population of suburban schools was 28% non-white. In 2006-2007 it stood at 41.4%.

But... And there's a BIG but -- at the same time the study found that while the overall number of minority students in suburban schools rose, diversity WITHIN individual schools was stagnant.

From the survey:

In 2006-07, the typical white suburban student attended a school whose student body was 75% white; in 1993-94, this same figure had been 83%. So at a time when the white share of student enrollment in suburban school districts was falling by 13 percentage points (from 72% in 1993-94 to 59% in 2006-07), the exposure of the typical white suburban student to minority students in his or her own school was growing by a little more than half that much, or 8 percentage points.

Which means, although more minorities are now enjoying suburban life, part of that life still includes segregation.

This is the world in which our children are being raised. Forty-one years on from the Kerner Commission's "two societies" declaration we are traveling from "separate and unequal" to equal but separated. In a time when so many willingly accept a black man as president, it is still unlikely that they would have a black or Hispanic or Asian as a neighbor.

And we wonder why the likes of Miley Cyrus or Joe Jonas don't understand the wrongness of going around making "Chinese eyes."

That fact is while many were offended when Attorney General Eric Holder chastised us for being "a nation of cowards" when it comes to having discussions on race, when we head home at night there's rarely anyone except people like us to have these discussions with.

More than just a fact of life, diversity is an attribute of our nation. For children diversity needs to be real, and not merely relegated to learning the names of the usual suspects during Black History Month or enjoying south-of-the-border cuisine on Cinco de Mayo. It means talking to and spending time with kids not like them so that they may discover those kids are in fact just like them.

But our kids aren't the ones who pick neighborhoods or buy houses. The life is theirs, but the choice is ours.

For more perspective please visit That Minority