School Segregation Is Increasing in the South

"Poor folks want that, rich folks want that, white folks want that, minorities want that," Reardon said. "Everyone wants that."

But he cautioned that while the study didn't explicitly test the consequences of segregation, it can lead to a disparity in high school-graduation rates and achievement gaps. Students in middle-class neighborhoods often attend schools that are better resourced and that tend to have more "political clout" within a district, Reardon said. The quality in teachers is often different, as well.

Reardon brought up another, less studied concern also.

"The other thing I think there's less good research about but that we worry about a little bit is if kids growing up in more segregated schools grow up with less capacity to be good members of a democracy," he said, adding that they may be less able to understand different points of view and appreciate diversity if they are not exposed to it at school.

Kristofer Rios contributed to this story.

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