Even in the 21st century the United States public school system is once again becoming segregated by race. Results of research show there are several factors involved in this trend, including housing discrimination and the United States Supreme Court granting the states sovereignty to govern their own policies on school desegregation; even going so far as to say the policies employed by states to desegregate based on race were unconstitutional. This topic addresses the issues causing resegregation and the ideas set forth to alleviate the problem and insure equal education for all children, regardless of race or socio-economic status.
Resegregation in American Public Schools
“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education." -Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954. In the 56th year of the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, which made racial segregation of American public schools unconstitutional, this country is now seeing a troubling trend towards once again segregating, mainly by race. The demise of racial desegregation in public schools is due not only to weak judicial enforcement on every governmental level, but also the apparent inaction of local community developers and leaders to improve the socio-economic status of the communities where racially segregated schools are predominantly found. According to Orfield & Yun (1999), “Reversing the trends of intensifying segregation and inequality will be difficult, but the costs of passively accepting them are likely to be immense” (p. 11). Several Supreme Court decisions handed down in the 1990’s, made the tactics school districts employed to desegregate their schools unconstitutional. The basic conclusion of the Court surmised that it was unconstitutional to take race into account in order to end segregation. Such decisions showed a dramatic reversal of the rulings made in the civil rights era ordering race be taken into account to whatever extent necessary to insure educational equality (Orfield & Lee, 2007). The Court’s opinions left the states with full sovereignty to govern their own individual states’ policies on desegregation. Per Orfield & Eaton (1996), the first big city desegregation order outside of the South was approved by Denver, Colorado in 1973; however, in September of 1995, the federal district court of Denver approved a plan for resegregation. As given forth in the case of Missouri v Jenkins, 495 US 33, the Supreme Court ruled the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri abused its discretion in imposing a tax increase to insure funding for desegregation of the Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD) public schools. Another example of the Supreme Court’s decision to grant states the right to desegregate their schools without federal oversight would be in the case of United States v. Unified Sch. Dist. No. 500, 974 F. Supp. 1367. The Court found that the school district had implemented comprehensive and successful desegregation policies; therefore, because the district was acting in good faith and was apparently committed to both quality education and desegregation, the Court would no longer hold the district accountable on the constitutional level to desegregate their schools.
In the wake of the decisions made by the Supreme Court in the 1990‘s, the Court reversed almost four decades of decisions and regulations permitting race to be taken into account due to failed desegregation plans that did not accomplish this goal. Magnet schools and transfer plans used to integrate the most racially segregated schools and affecting thousands of school districts were also being questioned. At the conclusion of these decisions, the Court’s majority gave school districts the responsibility to either abandon their current plans for desegregation or implement new plans where race was not taken into account. The...
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