Educational Freedom in Urban America: Brown v. Board after Half a Century

Educational Freedom in Urban America: Brown v. Board after Half a Century

Educational Freedom in Urban America: Brown v. Board after Half a Century

Educational Freedom in Urban America: Brown v. Board after Half a Century

Excerpt

Fifty years ago the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling known as Brown v. Board of Education. The ruling struck down segregated public schooling. As the court wrote, “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal‘ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” But almost five decades later, public education remains unequal. Fortyfive percent of black and 47 percent of Hispanic students drop out of public high schools (compared with 24 percent of whites). Only 5 percent of black and 10 percent of Hispanic fourth-graders reach the proficient level on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (compared with 33 percent of whites). Minority children living in America's inner cities suffer disproportionately from a failing education system.

After 50 years of reforms, urban public school leaders still battle problems with horrendous drop-out rates, abysmal test scores, and school safety. The 2003 report titled “Status and Trends in the Education of Blacks,” released by the National Center for Education Statistics, showed that performance gaps between black and white students ages 13 to 17 have widened in the last decade.

The continuing failure of public schools to provide a quality educational experience to inner-city children led the Cato Institute to convene a conference last year. The purpose of the conference was to examine the state of urban education half a century after Brown v. Board of Education. Conference participants were also asked to answer this question: How can inner-city students achieve the goal of educational freedom and equality? Most of the chapters in this volume were selected from the papers presented at that conference. Taken together, the chapters paint a dismal picture of educational quality in America's urban centers. The situation could be described as a sea of failure dotted by a few exceptional success stories.

To start off the volume, Howard Fuller, director of Marquette University's Institute for the Transformation of Learning, places the fight for school choice at the forefront of the ongoing struggle for . . .

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