Schools 'must fight segregation' Schools should do more to encourage integration to stop the UK sleepwalking its way to racial segregation, race equality chief Trevor Phillips says.
The Commission for Racial Equality head warned the country's increasingly segregated schools were "schooling people to be strangers to each other".
He suggested "creative" solutions such as changing school catchment areas.
Labour peer Lord Ahmed said the comments were "insensitive" and did not reflect life in much of Britain.
In an interview with Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Phillips said ethnic segregation in the UK was "reaching US levels".
He said schools should be leading the way in terms of integration but research had shown they were in fact slightly more segregated than their wider neighbourhoods.
Mr Phillips said it "cannot be right" that in a borough with a 30 to 40% ethnic minority population, there might be some schools with 95% minority pupils and others with just 2%.
And he is warning some universities are now effectively "colour coded".
He rejected the idea of positive discrimination in education or quotas to ensure diversity.
Mr Phillips was speaking ahead of a controversial speech he is expected to make to the Manchester Council for Community Relations, voicing fears that Britain could be drifting towards "New Orleans-style" racial divides.
He told BBC News: "We have now done some research which shows that we are not making friends across the colour line.
Our worry is this, that this is fertile breeding ground for extremists.
Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris said it was "sheer lunacy" that the government was establishing more faith schools, which would segregate children on the grounds of religion and "effectively therefore their race".
"I live in the north and I travel in the north every weekend.
I travel around the country and I see many, many very good examples of communities living together very happily and they're very successful."
Mohammed Shafiq, of the Liberal Democrats' Muslim Forum, also disagreed with Mr Phillips, saying multi-culturalism was a success.
Speaking at the Lib Dems' party conference, Mr Shafiq said Mr Phillips' comments were "inflammatory and offensive" and called for him to resign.
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