Magazine article Black Enterprise

Will U.S. Schools Resegregate?

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Will U.S. Schools Resegregate?

Article excerpt

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court may make a decision that adds to a growing wall of segregation dividing many of the nation's school children.

In the controversial 1991 case of Freeman v. Pitts, William Eugene Pitts and other black DeKalb County, Georgia student charged that black children have historically been short-changed by a school system that uses race to assign pupils, teachers and dollars to county schools.

In its defense, the school system argues that it has completed its legal obligation to comply with court-ordered desegregation. Moreover, officials counter they have made an effort and should not be held responsible for any residual segregation.

This raises a related issue. If a school system has a history of segregation, when should federal judges bow out of local decision-making on student and teacher placement?

In 1990, the high court ruling in Board of Education of Oklahoma Public Schools v. Dowell established a test to determine if a previously segregated school district had fulfilled its duty to desegregate. The test asked: 1) Has the school district complied with court orders in good faith? and 2) Does evidence of segregation remain?

The American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the current case before the Supreme Court last October, says DeKalb fails both tests.

Why? Although DeKalb's schools are 47% black, county officials send 62% of all blacks to mostly black schools and 59% of white students attend mostly white schools. Black faculty are also assigned disproportionately to black schools. And, the ACLU says predominantly black schools receive 13.7% or $341 dollars less per student annually than predominantly white schools.

DeKalb school officials disagree. They argue that they tried to desegregate the county's schools and, in fact, satisfy the obligations of the landmark 1954 Brown v. …

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