School Desegregation in the 21st Century

School Desegregation in the 21st Century

School Desegregation in the 21st Century

School Desegregation in the 21st Century

Synopsis

The biggest success of school desegregation plans has been the almost universal belief that racial discrimination is immoral and the commitment on the part of school districts to promoting and maintaining racial diversity in the schools. However, mandatory reassignment plans and plans with racial quotas have had serious costs--white flight and protest voting--and limited benefits--the racial gap in achievement was not reduced by school desegregation nor was there a significant improvement in race relations in school districts with desegregation plans. The authors of this book take a critical perspective on school desegregation policies and suggest compensatory funding and school choice as the solution to the problems of racial separation and the achievement gap.

Excerpt

School desegregation, in particular the court ordered “forced busing” that began in the 1970s, has been one of the most controversial issues in public education in this century. Although it no longer receives the national headlines that it did in the 1970s, hundreds of school systems, particularly larger ones, maintain desegregation policies, and many are still under court orders that originated decades ago. Nearly three-fourths of the 150 largest school districts in the United States had a desegregation plan in 1991 or earlier, as did four-fifths of those larger than 5,000 students. Local controversies continue to erupt over such issues as unitary status (ending existing court orders), busing to foster “economic” balance, and even new lawsuits to compel metropolitan desegregation. Recent unitary hearings and decisions have occurred in such diverse districts as Tampa, Florida; New Castle County, Delaware; Cleveland, Ohio; Prince George's County, Maryland; and Woodland Hills, Pennsylvania. Local board initiatives to bus for economic balance have occurred in La Crosse and Wausau, Wisconsin. Metropoliton desegregation litigation or controversy has occured in Hartford, Connecticut; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and Englewood/Tenafly, New Jersey.

Some people are surprised to learn that new desegregation plans have been ordered by federal courts during the 1990s and that they are still in place. For example, a “controlled choice” busing plan was ordered by a federal court for the Rockford, Illinois, school system in fall 1997. a second example is East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a voluntary plan with magnet schools was ordered by a federal court in the fall of 1996. Another example is Lafayette, Louisiana, where a federal court ordered a new desegregation

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