Readings on Equal Education, Volume 13: Forty Years after the Brown Decision-Implications of School Desegregation for U.S. Education

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Readings on Equal Education, Volume 13: Forty Years After the Brown Decision-Implications of School Desegregation for LI.S. Education, edited by Kofi Lomotey and Charles Teddlie. New York: AMS Press, 1996. 226 pp. $62.50, cloth.

The readings in this volume provide an overview of the progress made toward desegregation since the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. They are significant in that they include implications of desegregation for U.S. education generally as well as its impact on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The themes running throughout are the problems of desegregation and the relationship between race, poverty, educational outcomes, and housing patterns. The editors' intent was to present reviews of interest to persons familiar with the progress made since Brown, but the readings' strong historical focus also makes them useful as a knowledge base for those unfamiliar with this aspect of U.S. educational history.

The volume is divided into two sections, each of which begins with an informative overview bv co-editors Teddlie and Lomotey, both of whom are professors of education at Louisiana State University with extensive editorial experience. Section I, "The General Implications of Desegregation for U.S. Education," begins with an introductory chapter by the co-editors that provides an overview of historical perspectives on school desegregation. In chapter 2, Teddlie and co-author John Freeman divide the content into five periods as they explore the relationship between the Brown decision and higher education. They focus on the NAACP's struggle to end school segregation, White resistance to desegregation, and legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Higher Education Act of 1965. Teddlie and Freeman also examine the concept of "reverse discrimination," the growth in African American enrollment in colleges and universities during the 1980s and 1990s, and ongoing higher education desegregation cases in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The remainder of Section I deals primarily with desegregation cases at the elementary and secondary levels. In chapter 3, author Jacqulin Sensley Jacobs examines the position taken by the courts over the four decades since Brown, stating that courts initially issued strong desegregation mandates which subsequently were not enforced. She discusses methods of achieving desegregation such as attendance zones and busing, and notes that, by the 1980s and 1990s, freedom-of-choice programs rejected by earlier courts had become acceptable through the advent of magnet schools. Jacobs also asserts that, beginning in the 1990s, courts have acted more as referee, and local school districts have had more authority to establish desegregation plans. Chapter 4 author Janet Ward Schofield reviews research on the impact of desegregation on elementary and secondary students, focusing primarily on academic achievement and the relations between students from different ethnic and racial groups. She states that there is some evidence to suggest that desegregation may help break the cycle of generational and racial isolation, but that evidence regarding its impact on intergroup relations is inconclusive and inconsistent. Schofield argues that desegregation efforts should focus on improving educational opportunities rather than changing the racial composition of schools.

In chapter 5, "Continuing the Struggle for Desegregated Schools", authors Susan E. Eaton and Gary A. Orfield state that, even as the Brown decision is reaffirmed as a great moral victory, racial segregation remains a fact of everyday educational life. They examine in detail the Sheff v. O'Neill (1996) case, in which the plaintiffs charged that the concentrated poverty and segregation in Hartford, Connecticut schools deprived students of the equal education guaranteed by the state constitution. The court denied their request for a metropolitan desegregation plan; and plaintiffs subsequently appealed to the state Supreme Court. …