Sixty years ago, a court decision eliminated racial segregation in schools, ending the mistaken decades-old idea that students could be separated according to their race and given a “separate but equal” education. Today, legal segregation in schools is a thing of the past. However, integration is still an elusive goal.
May 17, 1954 is a key date in our historythe date when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ended racial separation in schools with the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Until that date, 17 states required that students be physically separated by race, while others left it up to the School Board.
Ever since, there have been numerous attempts to integrate schools. In many cases, students were bused to schools far away in order to create a more diverse student body, which raised a lot of criticism at the time.
Despite all the efforts, today school segregation continues, not in the South but in large urban centers like New York and Los Angeles.
Laws are not what keep students in schools where the majority of the students are Latino, African American or white. The economic situation of students’ families, local housing patterns and the middle-class flight to the suburbs created de facto segregation.
Schools have also suffered because of this dislocation, since the difference in resources, even the quality of the teachers, is usually lower in schools where most students are minorities.
The additional funding that Governor Brown proposed for needier schools is a good step forward. Now it is up to school districts like LAUSD to listen to the parents when it comes to allocating funds.
Sixty years ago, racial segregation was defeated thanks to a court decision. Today, the situation is more complex and requires all of society to make an effort.