"has no place in the field of public education"
May 16, 2014 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Tomorrow, is the 60th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision (pdf) in Brown v. Board of Education

ThinkProgress: In this new segregated system, states disadvantage students of color by providing fewer resources to schools serving the highest concentrations of students who need them the most. By perpetuating this inequitable system and rejecting powerful and effective education reforms such as the Common Core State Standards, these states effectively reclaim their legacy of systematic racial discrimination.

Washington Post: That true school integration has not yet come to pass even 60 years later speaks to a complicated reality that has evolved far beyond the reach of traditional education policies: It’s that much harder to integrate classrooms when the communities where children live are still so segregated.

ColorLines: A Brown v. Board of Education 60th Anniversary Reading List

NYTimes: “Get this,” Mrs. Obama told the Washington high school students, “some of my teachers straight up told me that I was setting my sights too high.”

MSNBC photo essay: Look back: 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education

USA Today: With the Obama administration's blessing and start-up money behind it, charters are poised for further exponential growth. The problem with that, critics say, is that charter systems pay more attention to student achievement than to racial diversity when both are important.

NPR: Sylvia Mendez says the only reason she wanted to go to an all-white school in California's Westminster District in the 1940s was because of its beautiful playground. The school that she and other Latino students were forced to attend didn't have monkey bars or swings.

New Pittsburgh Courier: How the Black Press covered Brown v. Board of Education

Delaware News Journal: Teaching young people about Brown v. Board’s legacy

Slate: While hyper-segregation has increased across the board, it comes after staggering declines in the South, the “border states”—Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, i.e., former slaveholding states that never joined the Confederacy—the Midwest, and the West. In the Northeast, however, school segregation has increased, going from 42.7 percent in 1968 to 51.4 percent in 2011. Or, put another way, desegregation never happened in the schools of the urban North.

ProPublica: But some federal courts don't even know how many desegregation orders still exist on their dockets. With increasing frequency, federal judges are releasing districts from court oversight even where segregation prevails, at times taking the lack of action in cases as evidence that the problems have been resolved.

Grist: When looking at segregation today through the lens of environmental justice, we see that racism is still inherent. However, contrary to Clark’s other unused finding, it’s children of color whose development is most inhibited, in terms of their exposure to toxic pollution and the accompanying health risks.

Previously, Previously among many others
posted by roomthreeseventeen (12 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
At least a few scholars, such as the late Derrick Bell, believed almost from the outset [pdf] that Brown was, while not wrongly decided as such, probably not the best strategy for producing improved outcomes for non-whites. According to Bell it would have been better if the Court had simply rigidly enforced the "equal" part of "separate but equal."
Instead, what Brown did for many African Americans was legitimate the status quo. While they remained poor and disempowered, their status was no longer a result of denied equality. Rather, Bell said, it marked a personal failure to take advantage of one's defined equal status.

In conclusion, Bell argued that Brown v. Board of Education ultimately failed to remove barriers to equal education based on race. "Our hopes that it would do so have been replaced by a reluctant observation that it unintentionally replaced overt barriers with less obvious but equally obstructive new ones," he said. "The campaign continues."
I heard Bell give a talk along similar lines when I was in law school. And when I look at our system of de facto segregation and the disparities in school quality, public service quality, and the funding thereof, I tend to think he has a point. Of course, we're probably stuck with the system we have now, but one wonders.
posted by jedicus at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow, thanks, there's TONS of great stuff here! Thank you for taking the time to make such a thoughtful post.

It really is amazing how unbelievably entrenched many of these issues still are, and the insularity many of our students face. In a lot of schools, there's virtually no diversity of background or experience; kids seriously don't understand or believe that there are people who do things differently than their families do. I literally had a conversation with a third grader yesterday that went "Did you get whooped when you were a kid?" "No, sweetie, I didn't." "Did you get popped?" "Nope." "That's crazy." It honestly seemed insane to her that there were families who made different choices than hers because she doesn't know anyone whose family does things any other way. Kids' families celebrate the same way, speak the same way, do the same things on weekends, and have very little exposure to different experiences.

This young lady, like many students, seriously had no conception of the fact that other families might not operate in the same ways as hers because everyone she knows does things the same way, and this lack of exposure to other ways of life and experiences and opinions happens with alarming frequency when we face de facto segregation. Kids in white, well-off schools don't actually have any real sense of the struggles of low income and minority students and students in poor and predominantly minority schools don't have access to the same opportunities and expectations of success as in wealthier schools and school districts. It's just really bad for everyone and it's a huge and terrible shame that here, sixty years later, Brown v. Board of Education is still shockingly, terrifyingly relevant.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:59 AM on May 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Whoa, jedicus, that just blew my mind and is an absolutely fascinating opinion. I think from a legal/moral standpoint that would have been hugely problematic, but the idea that from a practical standpoint actual, solidly good schools just for non-white communities would have been better is amazing and complex. Whoa. Thank you for that -- in addition to the post, it's given me a lot to think about.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2014

Urban charters are a good test of Derrick Bell's vision, insofar as many have overwhelmingly minority student bodies and they have considerably more net resources than a comparable district-run school. (Although per-student government budget dollars are often lower, charters get more parental and philanthropist contributions, get far more teacher hours per $ thanks to teachers with both lower salaries and longer work-days, have fewer special education kids, and have little or no dilution for disciplinary cases.)
posted by MattD at 8:35 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not sure how related this is going to be, but the Atlantic's feature piece for May 27 (online May 22) is entitled "The Case for Reparations", by Ta-Nehisi Coates
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:36 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Urban charters...have fewer special education kids, and have little or no dilution for disciplinary cases

Yup! When kids get kicked out of charter schools they end up back in their regular public schools so charter schools can create both a drain of involved parents AND a concentration of SpEd students and those with emotional or disciplinary issues at public schools. Some charter schools will admit students just long enough for them to be counted as part of the enrollment so they get the funding for those kids, then kick them out and they end up back at their regular schools which now don't have the funding associated with them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:48 AM on May 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Meanwhile, one of the education privatization conspiracy's principal architects is appointed Undersecretary of Education.
posted by clockzero at 9:11 AM on May 16, 2014

In a lot of schools, there's virtually no diversity of background or experience; kids seriously don't understand or believe that there are people who do things differently than their families do.

Word to this. Most of the schools I went to were small, and lacked not only racial diversity but social diversity as well. And while my skin color was the same as my schoolmates', my family was often different in a lot of ways - I found myself wishing so many times for less homogeneity, and wondering what it would be like to go to a school where everybody didn't look and act the same all the time.

We had one black kid and one Hispanic kid in my high school, and they were the same kid.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:35 AM on May 16, 2014

Some of the links are blocked by my work filter, so this might be repeating information from the OP, but this chart has been blowing my mind since I saw it yesterday. More than half of black students in my area of the country go up in essentially a segregated school. In fact, the northeast has become more segregated since Brown. I'm not one to normally say everything is getting worse, but this is pretty bad. I also can't imagine the trend changing anytime soon.
posted by lownote at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Brown vs. Board National Historic Site will be performing a re-enactment of the decision & response on Twitter tomorrow and Sunday using the hashtag #Brown1954 .
posted by rewil at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2014

Progressives like to complain about some of the Supreme Court decisions of the last few years being on the list with Dred Scott, Plessy and Korematsu but in my opinion, the 70s had some of the worst rulings since Roosevelt started getting his way.
San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez (1973), said kids in different school districts don't deserve equal funding.
Milliken v. Bradley (1974) said segregation is fine as long is it is across district boundaries. In summary, neither separate nor unequal are unconstitutional.

OT That decade also brought Buckley v. Valeo which equated money with speech, all the campaign finance jurisprudence of the last 35 years follows inexorably from that original sin.
posted by Octaviuz at 12:44 PM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's unsurprising that Brown didn't result in a waterfall of actions undoing de facto segregation, since its holding was based almost entirely on the psychological effects of de jure segregation:
To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.
posted by tew at 12:49 PM on May 16, 2014

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