Brown v. Board of Ed

[Content Note: Racism; segregation; class warfare.]

Tomorrow marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, in which the US Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" public schooling was a violation of the Constitution.

In the years following the decision, US public schools began the process of desegregation, but a new report from UCLA's Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles details how many of the desegregation gains first made in the decade following Brown v. Board of Ed have been undermined, and how, 60 years hence, separate and unequal public education, by both race and class, is still a critical issue in the US.

At Colorlines, Julianne Hing observes: "Many of the biggest gains in school desegregation happened in the decades immediately following Brown, but in the subsequent years, courts have played a large role in dismantling desegregation plans around the country. Those shifts, together with increasing residential segregation and inequity and demographic changes, have created a landscape that's at once brand new and also all too familiar. Today, black children are attending attending racially isolated schools at their highest rates in decades, while more than half of Latino children attend schools that are majority Latino."

Hing has compiled a reading list for the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed here.

I also recommend this piece by Christopher Bonastia: "Why the Racist History of the Charter School Movement Is Never Discussed."

And this piece by Daniel Denvir: "The Resegregation of America's Schools."

Segregation is a problem for a whole lot of reasons, first and foremost because schools with primarily or exclusively student populations of color are vastly more likely to be underfunded and unsupported in ways that have demonstrable effects on the quality of students' educations.

It also abets a generational cycle of privilege and marginalization, as white students who have no meaningful interaction with people of other races and cultures fail to develop the basic pluralistic socialization and empathy that dismantling the white supremacist system requires.

A segregated public school system that inures its students to race- and class-based disempowerment is antithetical to social justice and social progress.

Which is exactly why there are people who fight so hard for segregated education, and exactly why we must fight even harder against it.

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