December 29, 2010
DID BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION FAIL US? OR, DID WE (MEANING THE COLLECTIVE AMERICANS 'WE') FAIL BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION?
Minow, Martha, In Brown's Wake: Legacies of America's Educational Landmark (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2010) ("Efforts to end racial segregation in schools could fail in two quite different ways. They could fail, in fact, to bring about racial mixing. Or they could bring about racial mixing that turns out to replicate the racial hierarchy and subordination expressed in the segregated system. Evasion is the first problem; perpetuation is the second. The racial desegregation effort following Brown has suffered both fates. Decades of resistance preceded new patterns of public and private actions, producing racially identifiable schools that in turn mirror the economic and social disparities between whites and members of other races, even as the nation grows more diverse. Courts and communities have failed to sustain desegregation efforts that worked. Strikingly, the racial achievement gap persists in racially mixed middle-class schools-- even among African Americans and Hispanics who are themselves middle-class, and among academically motivated and focused students of color. Whether in the same school or in substantially separate schools, students across the country, with notable exceptions, continue to register a racial gap in school achievement (measured by test scores) that mirror the gap between whites and African Americans and Latinos in home ownership, occupation, education, and wealth, Disparities in access to educational resources also persist when the experience of white students are compared with those of black and Hispanic students." "Meanwhile the ideal of integration no longer motivates people of any race. . . ." Id. at 26-27. That said, from the bookjacket: "What is the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education? While it is well known for establishing racial equality as a central commitment of American schools, the case also inspired social movements for equality in education across all lines of difference, including language, gender, disability, immigration status, socio-economic status, religion, and sexual orientation. Yet more than a half century after Brown, American schools are more racially separated than before, and educators, parents, and policy maker still debate whether the ruling requires all-inclusive classrooms in terms of race, gender, disability and other differences." "In Brown's Wake examines the reverberations of Brown in American schools, including efforts to promote equal opportunities for all kinds of students. School choice, once a strategy for avoiding Brown, has emerged as a tool to promote integration and opportunities, even as charter schools and private school voucher programs enable new forms of self-separation by language, gender, disability, and ethnicity.").