On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483), declaring state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. Sixty years later, according to the Economic Policy Bureau, we haven’t come far, thanks to residential segregation, private school vouchers, and other methods to get around the ruling of the Courts. (The data shown in this chart compare school segregation between 1968-1969 and 2009-2010.)
Moreover, as the UCLA Civil Rights Project documents:
The consensus of nearly sixty years of social science research on the harms of school segregation is clear: separate remains extremely unequal. Schools of concentrated poverty and segregated minority schools are strongly related to an array of factors that limit educational opportunities and outcomes. These include less experienced and less qualified teachers, high levels of teacher turnover, less successful peer groups and inadequate facilities and learning materials. There is also a mounting body of evidence indicating that desegregated schools are linked to important benefits for all children, including prejudice reduction, heightened civic engagement, more complex thinking and better learning outcomes in general.”
What are their recommendations?
The report provides solid research to demonstrate that segregated schools are systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities. This in turn contributes to a culture of hopelessness and far too often, criminal activity. We would also suggest therefore that one could appeal to the loathing of so many with resources to pay more taxes; those with no opportunities and nothing to which to look forward tend to commit more crimes, and create greater costs for society than if they could contribute to society in meaningful ways. [Another factor in those costs is the fact that blacks are more likely than whites to be arrested for the same crime, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. In some places their arrest is over eight times more likely!]
One can only hope that each of us can find a measure of that courage to contribute to – at the every least, awareness and advocacy, even if just among our friends and acquaintances. It’s time to move forward at least, and live up to the ideals upon which this country was founded. How much might change if kids got to know each other in school and became friends?