Schools should have ethnic quotas for the numbers of pupils they admit, the head of the Local Government Association has suggested.
There is agreement on the need for action
Lord Bruce-Lockhart told The Times Britain would never achieve integration and social cohesion while neighbouring schools were ethnically divided.
He said it was unacceptable to have one school that was 90% white and another 90% non-white in the same area.
The Department for Education and Science rejected his proposal.
Lord Bruce-Lockhart did not set a quota level, but said other experts had suggested schools should offer 25% of their places to pupils who were not from the majority ethnic group.
The chairman of the Commission for racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, said: "I'm open to discussion, but I would not have said this is the first place we need to go."
He told MPs there was a "settled pattern" of segregation in many towns, often contributing to gang-related conflict between young people.
A spokesman for the education department stressed the achievement gains that had been made by pupils from minority ethnic groups.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said Lord Bruce-Lockhart's remarks had been made in a conversation with the newspaper and had not been endorsed by the association.