Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation

Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation

Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation

Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation


As a result of tremendous social, legal, and political movements after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the South led the nation in school desegregation from the late 1960s through the beginning of the twenty-first century. However, following a series of court cases in the past two decades--including a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that raised potentially strong barriers for districts wishing to pursue integration--public schools in the South and across the nation are now resegregating faster than ever.

In this comprehensive volume, a roster of leading scholars in educational policy and related fields offer eighteen essays seeking to illuminate new ways for American public education to counter persistent racial and socioeconomic inequality in our society. Drawing on extensive research, the contributors reinforce the key benefits of racially integrated schools, examine remaining options to pursue multiracial integration, and discuss case examples that suggest how to build support for those efforts. Framed by the editors' introduction and a conclusion by Gary Orfield, these essays engage the heated debates over school reform and advance new arguments about the dangers of resegregation while offering practical, research-grounded solutions to one of the most pressing issues in American education.

The contributors are:
Courtney Bell, Educational Testing Service
Robert Bifulco, Syracuse University
John Charles Boger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Casey D. Cobb, University of Connecticut
Elizabeth DeBray, University of Georgia
Sarah L. Diem, University of Missouri
Jacquelyn Duran, Columbia University
Erica Frankenberg, Pennsylvania State University
Patricia Gandara, University of California, Los Angeles
Ellen Goldring, Vanderbilt University
Willis D. Hawley, Univer sity of Maryland
Jennifer Jellison Holme, University of Texas at Austin
Eric A. Houck, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, Emory University
Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation
Chinh Q. Le, New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
Katherine Cumings Mansfield, University of Texas at Austin
Gary Orfield, University of California, Los Angeles
Myron Orfield, University of Minnesota
Douglas D. Ready, Columbia University
Sean F. Reardon, Stanford University
Lori Rhodes, Stanford University
Janelle Scott, University of California, Berkeley
Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, University of California, Los Angeles
Megan R. Silander, Columbia University
Claire Smrekar, Vanderbilt University
Amy Stuart Wells, Columbia University
Sheneka Williams, University of Georgia
Terrenda White, Columbia University


Erica frankenberg & elizabeth debray

Looking to the Future

Some social commentators and scholars have recently posited that policy makers’ lack of attention to furthering integration—outside of a paean to Brown v. Board of Education on anniversaries of that milestone decision— demonstrates that desegregation’s time has passed. Other writers, including distinguished legal scholar Derrick Bell, have argued that while school desegregation is a worthy goal, it has become politically unfeasible, particularly in light of demographic realities and legal rulings, the most recent being the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (pics, 2007) striking down two districts’ voluntary integration policies. Still others contend that the public wants good schools regardless of the racial composition of schools or classrooms.

We disagree. Though we are conscious of the political challenges facing integration, we do not believe that desegregation’s time has necessarily passed. the goals of public schools, broadly to prepare children for their duties as citizens and contributors to our society and economy as adults and more specifically to improve the achievement and attainment of all students, we believe, are best achieved through the pursuit of integrated, equitable schools. While segregation continues to rise, as it has for the past two decades for black and Latino students, we know much more than we did before Brown about why segregation is harmful and how we might construct policies that promote integrated schools. Millions of students, teachers, and community members across the racial spectrum who experienced racial integration and emerged more supportive of integration efforts provide a human face to these facts. What’s more, as Gary Orfield reminds us in the conclusion to this book, despite the political and legal civil rights setbacks, today’s climate is much more receptive to contemporary legal and social science arguments than the environment of the first half of the 20th century. Though the obstacles to integration are significant, this moment in time has advantages unavailable to the Brown lawyers and their brave plaintiffs in the South decades ago. Further, unlike desegregation efforts of the 20th century that largely focused on the . . .

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