New Report Looks Closely at Resegregation of Schools
In the past decade there has been a backward movement for desegregation in U.S. schools, especially for Latino and African American students, and particularly in the South, according to a new study on national resegregation trends in American public schools. The report, released by the Civil Rights Project (CRP) at Harvard University, also found that Asian students are the most integrated and most successful students by far.
CRP announced the study’s finding last month on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and nearly 50 years since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in which the Supreme Court found that “separate-but-equal schools” for White and Black students were unfair and unconstitutional.
The report, “Brown at 50: King’s Dream or the Plessy Nightmare,” authored by Harvard professor Dr. Gary Orfield and research associate Chungmei Lee, considers changes in the country and in the districts directly affected by Brown. It also examines a decade of resegregation from the Supreme Court’s Dowell v. Oklahoma City (1991) decision, which authorized a return to segregated neighborhood schools, through the 2001-2002 school year and provides new information on the changes in schools where desegregation plans have ended.
“Martin Luther King’s dream is being celebrated in theory and dishonored in practice with the decisions and methods that are re-segregating our schools,” said Orfield, commenting on the significance of releasing the report during the time set aside to honor King. “Dr. King spoke of his nightmare, that the country would renege on its promises of racial justice before his death, but he could hardly have imagined a Supreme Court that would push Southern schools back toward segregation.”
There has been a substantial slippage toward segregation in most of the states that were highly desegregated in 1991; and there is great variation among states, according to the report. For instance, the most integrated state for African Americans in 2001 is Kentucky. The most desegregated states for Latinos are in the Northwest. Asians are the most integrated and most successful group of students and, by far, the most likely to attend multi-racial schools with a significant presence of three or more racial groups, according to the report.
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