Why American schools are resegregating
January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
The hope behind desegregation was that it would bring together white and black children to learn with, and from, each other, and end the disparities that blacks suffered under legal segregation -hand-me-down textbooks, decrepit buildings, lower-paid teachers, and, of course, lagging achievement. In the three decades following Brown v. Board of Education, courts ordered districts to create elaborate student assignment plans–often dependent on forced busing–to mix black, Hispanic, and white students together in the same schools. Most school boards complied reluctantly, and parents in places like Boston reacted violently.
A few educators and parents began to see substantial benefits that changed their minds. “It was really hard to do, but we all came together and over the years it has paid off,” said Carol Haddad, a long-time school board member in Louisville, Kentucky, one of the few districts that has maintained desegregated schools voluntarily despite the lifting of its court order. “We can give equal opportunities to all kids.”
Nevertheless, in most communities forced to try desegregation, the sacrifices weren’t worth the benefits. Parents of all races complained about the hassle of busing and the loss of neighborhood schools, but for black families the burdens were often heavier: Their children tended to spend more time commuting, their own schools were closed to make desegregation more convenient for whites (and prevent their flight to the suburbs or private schools), and their teachers were fired when white and black schools were merged.