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US Schools Are Not Racially Integrated, Despite Decades Of Effort

Written by Pedro A. Noguera, University of Southern California

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Nearly seven decades after the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the court’s declared goal of integrated education is still not yet achieved.

American society continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse. But many of the nation’s public K-12 schools are not well integrated and are instead predominantly attended by students of one race or another.

As an educational sociologist, I fear that the nation has effectively decided that it’s simply not worth continuing to pursue the goals of Brown. I also fear that accepting failure could portend a return to the days of the case that Brown overturned, the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. That case set “separate but equal” facilities for different races, including schools and universities, as the national priority.

The Brown decision was based upon a repudiation of that idea and the recognition that “separate but equal” was never achieved. I remain convinced it never will be.

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