Racial Segregation Returns to Many Schools: Report

A report by Stanford University indicates that schools once under court-ordered desegregation have become re-segregated.

Posted: 12/21/2012 09:09 AM EST
Racial Segregation Returns to Many Schools: Report

Racial segregation has increased in many large and medium-size school districts around the country that are no longer overseen by court ordered desegregation plans, according to a study by researchers at Stanford University.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Policy Analysis, found that nearly half of the 500 schools districts that were under court order to desegregate in 1990 have been released from judicial oversight. Some 85 percent of these school districts are in southern states.

The research indicated that when schools are relieved of judicial oversight, the districts tended to become more racially segregated. The study, which was conducted by researchers at Stanford’s School of Education, indicated that school districts that were released from court orders saw racial segregation grow faster than 90 percent of other school districts.

Additionally, it found that the renewed segregation of the schools was most prevalent at the elementary school level. The report said that might well be a reflection of the fact that neighborhoods remain largely racially segregated and many elementary schools serve particular neighborhoods. On the other hand, secondary schools are typically larger and more centrally located, the report said.

“The study shows that many of the gains that resulted from the Brown decision are being lost,” said Sean Reardon, a professor of education at Stanford and the lead author of the research paper.

“While the schools in these districts aren’t becoming as segregated as they were before Brown, they are becoming much more segregated than they were 20 years ago,” Reardon said.

The Brown vs. Board of Education case was the landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional.

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