More than fifty years after the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision, blacks and Latinos in U.S. schools are more segregated than they have been in more than four decades, according to a new report from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California.
Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge illustrates that race still impacts U.S. education and that the nation is far from the "post-racial" society media and pundits are claiming it to be. The report finds that the U.S. continues to move backward toward increasing minority segregation in highly unequal schools; the job situation remains especially bleak for American blacks, and Latinos have a college completion rate that is shockingly low. At the same time, very little is being done to address large scale challenges such as continuing discrimination in the housing and home finance markets, among other differences across racial lines.
According the report although large progress was made during the civil rights era, it is slipping away year by year. Since the Supreme Court reversed course in 1991 and authorized return to segregated neighborhood schools, there has been an increase in segregation every year, particularly for black and Latino students -- 40% of Latinos and 39% of blacks now attend intensely segregated schools. The average black and Latino student is now in a school that has nearly 60% of students from families who are near or below the poverty line.
Residential segregation continues to play a large role and increasingly determines the racial composition in schools in the absence of measures by education authorities to create and maintain integrated schools. And more than 40 years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, there continues to be almost no serious enforcement against widespread housing discrimination which is making it difficult to maintain integration in suburbia.
As the report points out, the Supreme Court concluded in Brown, that Southern segregation was "inherently unequal" and did "irreversible" harm to black students, and it later extended that ruling to Latinos. The South, where most blacks have always lived, is 26.5% black, and 21.5% Latino, with new immigration continuing to add new people of color to the region. Indeed, Brown made a huge difference in the South -- from 1970 to 2004, black students in the South were actually less segregated than those in any other region as the result of vigorous enforcement by the federal government in the late l960s and strong requirements from the Supreme Court through the early l970s. The highest rates of total segregation actually come today in Northern cities like Chicago and Detroit, according to the report.