Resegregation on the Rise, Says Report
WASHINGTONDespite the push for public school desegregation sparked by the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. the Board of Education, the decade of the 1990s saw school districts around the nation move towards the segregation of Black, Latino and White students, according to a recent report released by the Civil Rights Project group at Harvard University. Dr. Gary Orfield, a co-director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project and a professor of education and social policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, told reporters at the National Press Club last month that during the 1980s Black students in the South had reached levels of school integration in majority White schools that have neither been matched in other regions nor have been higher in the South since the late 1980s. In 1988, the percentage of Black students in the South who attended majority White schools was 43.5 percent. By 1998, the percentage had fallen to 32.7 percent, according to the report. “We had apartheid in the South (before the Brown decision). Yet integration has been highest there, and it still holds. But we’re slipping back,” Orfield says. Orfield, the main author of Schools More Separate: Consequences of a Decade of Resegregation, the newly released report, cites decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, which have released school districts from the requirements of court-ordered desegregation plans, as a major factor in school district resegregation. “There may be several reasons for this resegregation, but the impact of the repeal or non-enforcement of desegregation plans became apparent in a number of regions, particularly in the South, where most of the mandatory desegregation occurred,” according to the report. To reverse resegregation, Orfield says expansion of magnet school programs represents one way of attracting Whites to inner-city schools. Funding dual language immersion programs and transportation programs that shuttle students between school districts can also promote school integration. “Can we do something about resegregation? This report says yes,” Orfield says.
— By Ronald Roach
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