Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Black, White, and Brown

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Black, White, and Brown

Article excerpt

FORTY YEARS ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Brown v. Board of Education, that "in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place." In this month's Kappan, Forrest White describes the well-planned campaign to establish the legal precedents that finally overturned racially segregated schools -- but he also describes the equally well-planned resistance from state and municipal leaders that thwarted school desegregation at every turn through such strategies as selectively tearing down mixed-race neighborhoods and demolishing threatened schools.

In the letter accompanying his manuscript, White noted that "it is no wonder, given this background, that public schools today still remain so segregated -- and that the resegregation of America continues at a fairly steady pace, using some of these same techniques." Though he did not say so, it's also no wonder that many blacks, disillusioned by the lack of progress, are bowing out and actively seeking to separate themselves from white society.

Columnist Carl Rowan used the words of one black mother to describe this stance as it touches on the schools. "My kid don't have to sit with no white child to learn," that mother said. "Ain't nothing worthwhile gonna rub off that white kid. All I want is them to spend more money raising the standards of our black schools."

The proper response to that black mother was framed by Christopher Jencks in 1972. In Inequality, Jencks wrote: "If we want a segregated society, we should have segregated schools. If we want a desegregated society, we should have desegregated schools."

Research findings suggest that it's truly that simple. …

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