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US schools returning to segregation (Read 251 times)


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US schools returning to segregation
Aug 9th, 2002 at 11:22pm
Decades after the struggles to integrate black children into American classrooms, a study says education is again dividing down racial lines
by Duncan Campbell, Guardian UK, August 10, 2002

American schools are now becoming increasingly segregated by race, according to a new study. Nearly half a century after the famous battles to integrate the school system, classrooms have become "re-segregated" and more race-based, according to the survey.
The report by the civil rights project at Harvard University confirms what activists have increasingly claimed that despite the many changes in US society, de facto segregation still exists in many parts of the country. Legal challenges to affirmative action policies have also had an effect on the levels of integration.
According to the study, integration between whites and blacks is either decreasing or unchanged in all but a few of the country's largest school districts over the past 14 years.

"A lot of people think that nothing can be done, and the efforts have failed," said Chungmei Lee, a co-author of the report. The study took a sample of 185 of the largest school districts and found black students' exposure to white students had increased in only four of them between 1986 and 2000. Latino exposure to whites increased in only three districts. In 53 districts, white schools became increasingly whiter. The most marked example in the study was Clayton county, Georgia, where the level of integration had fallen threefold in the period of the study.

The pattern across the southern states, which had been the scene of the most turbulent desegregation struggles in the 50s and 60s, was the most pronounced. Texas has eight of the 20 most resegregated schools in the report, and Georgia has three. But the south also contained a number of school districts that had resisted the trend and remained integrated.

Chungmei Lee said that economics was a major driving force in resegregation: the poorest school districts, which had the least educational resources, suffered the biggest collapse of integration.

While the report recommends that poorer inner-city school districts should be combined with wealthier suburban school districts to make up a single, more integrated district, such attempts have faced legal challenges from conservative groups.

Chester Darling, a lawyer representing parents currently fighting a desegregation policy in Lynn, Massachusetts, challenged the report's assumption that diversity was desirable. He said that parents and not the government should decide whether they wanted changes to be made.

"When you have a government involved in enforcing a particular form of diversity, then you have a government making decisions that are illegal," he told the Associated Press.

The report's findings did not surprise some veteran civil rights campaigners. Sam Walker, of the Coalition of Alabamians Rebuilding Education, said that the public school system in Selma, Alabama, was now about 95% African-American with white parents putting their children in private schools. After integration was introduced in Selma, he said, white students studied at the same schools but benefited from a streaming, "academic tracking", system. "Since then the whites have fled the public school system to white academies," Mr Walker added.

Why separate was ruled unequal

The case of Brown v the Board of Education of Topeka in Kansas, which was finally decided in 1954, has been the symbol of desegregation in education for almost half a century.

The ruling found that segregation in the public schools solely on the basis of race denied equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th amendment.

Mr Chief Justice Warren delivered the historic opinion in a case that also involved schools in South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware.

It was ruled that the concept of "separate but equal" was unconstitutional, even if the facilities were equally good at all schools.

But the ruling was greeted with fierce opposition from white parents. Bussing of black students into white areas and vice versa was introduced but has also since faced legal challenges.

The case of Milliken v Bradley in 1974 discouraged the policy and after the election of President Reagan in 1980, federal funds for desegregation were reduced and resegregation began.

Reproduced from:,7369,772315,00.html
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School Desegregation
Reply #1 - Aug 11th, 2002 at 6:06am
In 1954, the Supreme Court took a momentous step: In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka the court set aside a Kansas statute permitting cities of more than 15,000 to maintain separate schools for blacks and whites and ruled instead that all segregation in public schools is “inherently unequal” and that all blacks barred from attending public schools with white pupils are denied equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment . The doctrine was extended to state-supported colleges and universities in 1956. Meanwhile, in 1955 the court implemented its 1954 opinion by declaring that the federal district courts would have jurisdiction over lawsuits to enforce the desegregation decision and asked that desegregation proceed “with all deliberate speed.”
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