Schools in US growing more separate and still unequal

May 19, 2014
Schools in U.S. growing more separate and still unequal
Students in a Los Angeles elementary school classroom. Credit: UCLA

(Phys.org) —Sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court ended "separate but equal" in public schools, the UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles released a report today showing the segregation is on the rise in many schools across the country.

Desegregation progress was very substantial for Southern blacks, in particular, says the report, titled Brown at 60: Great Progress, a Long Retreat and an Uncertain Future and occurred from the mid-1960s to the late l980s. The authors state that, contrary to many claims, the South has not gone back to the level of before Brown. It has, however, lost all of the additional progress made after 1967, but is still the least segregated region for black students.

"Brown was a major accomplishment and we should rightfully be proud. But a real celebration should also involve thinking seriously about why the country has turned away from the goal of Brown and accepted deepening polarization and inequality in our schools," said Gary Orfield, co-author of the study and co-director of the Civil Rights Project, which released the study. "It is time to stop celebrating a version of history that ignores our last quarter century of retreat and begin to make new history by finding ways to apply the vision of Brown in a transformed, multiracial society in another century."

This new research affirms that the growth of segregation coincides with the demographic surge in the Latino population. Segregation has been most dramatic for Latino students, particularly in the West, where there was substantial integration in the 1960s but segregation has soared since. The report concludes with recommendations about how the nation might pursue making the promise of Brown a reality in the 21st century—providing equal opportunity to all students regardless of race or economic background.

The Civil Rights Project released another study this week co-authored by Orfield that assessed California's progress in addressing and found that California students are more racially segregated than ever.

In that study, Segregating California's Future: Inequality and its Alternative 60 Years after Brown v. Board of Education, Orfield and Jongyeon Ee, a graduate student researcher at the Civil Rights Project, analyzed demographic data from California's more than 10,000 schools. They concluded that California's enrollment has grown far more diverse since Brown. But demographic shifts that could have led to more diverse and integrated schools have, instead, resulted in the educational isolation of Latino and African-American students.

Explore further: Segregation in American schools still problematic, despite best efforts

More information: The study, "Segregating California's Future: Inequality and its Alternative 60 Years after Brown v. Board of Education," is available online: civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/re… .-board-of-education

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