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Segregation Still a Problem on 50th Anniversary of Brown Decision

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education, the 1954 landmark US Supreme Court ruling that segregating students by race was inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional. Although the number of black Americans with college degrees has risen from 4 in 1954 to 20 percent today, as the Associated Press reports, currently, more than one-third of the black students in this country attend schools with less than 10 percent white students, according to the Muskegon Chronicle. Schools in the United States have become increasingly segregated for blacks and Latinos over the past 15 years, so much so that today’s schools are almost as segregated as those in the early 1970s. The Chronicle points to halted busing and the flight of whites and middle-class minorities to the suburbs, which have left the nation’s city populations heavily minority and poor. For example, the District of Columbia’s school system consists of 84 percent black students, and in the city of Topeka, KS, where the landmark Brown case originated, so many white families moved out to the suburbs that empty schools have been auctioned off, minority students comprise more than 50 percent of the students, and two-thirds of the students are low-income. US Secretary of Education Roderick Paige sweeps aside questions about re-segregation trends in the US, the Washington Post reports. “I have never viewed integration as the goal,” he says. Instead, he points to the administration’s No Child Left Behind initiative aimed at holding predominantly minority schools accountable to “the same high standards” that middle-class white schools have. If they don’t meet these standards their funding is cut. Critics say these schools are doomed to fail because they are expected to meet the same standards without equivalent funding for their programs. In March, Paige’s Education Department proposed regulations to make it significantly easier for schools to segregate classes and even schools by sex. “It is appalling,” stated Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, “that in the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the case that taught us that separate is never equal, this administration has issued proposed regulations that plan to separate the sexes and does not even promise us equality.” LEARN MORE Read FMF comments on Education Dept proposed regulation to allow segregating classes and schools by sex DONATE to FMF and support our new Educational Equity Program

Sources:

Muskegon Chronicle 5/17/04; Associated Press 5/17/04; Washington Post 5/17/04; New York Times 5/17/04

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