Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is School Desegregation All It Was Cracked Up To Be?

We all know that the 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, integrated schools in this country. Prior to that decision, schools were segregated by race: white and black. White schools had more resources than black schools, which translated to the belief that white students had more opportunities than black students. Thus, leading black Americans turned to the courts, with the best of intent, to give African-Americans the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

But has desegregation really served the purpose it was intended to serve? A half a century later, are our children really reaping the benefits of integration? Sadly, I have to answer in the negative.

First, integration brought with it the loss of thousands of professional jobs for African-Americans, those of the teachers and principals of the formerly segregated black schools. Consequently, our children suffer because they do not see people who look like them in positions of power at school.

Second, the public school systems in most major metropolitan areas are still segregated, just not by legal mandate. As more and more of the white population conduct mass exodus to the suburbs, and those who do not move to the suburbs send their kids to private schools, most urban schools are filled with children whose families cannot afford to move to the suburbs or send them to private schools -- mostly black, and now, Hispanic children. And because the suburbs bring in more tax money and spend less on city services than the inner-city, suburban children end up having access to resources and opportunities that urban children do not have.

Additionally, just because a black child attends a suburban, or more privileged school, does not mean that child will do any better than their urban counterparts. Black children in mostly white suburban schools face a different set of problems than black children in urban schools, including racial and testing bias. For instance, in suburban schools that utilize "tracking" systems -- better known as advanced placement, gifted and talented, or the honors program -- black children are consistently underrepresented in the higher tracks because of a history of discrimination in education.

So what is the answer? I don't know that legally-mandated resegregation -- where black children are taught by black teachers -- is the answer to our problems, but the status quo is having a detrimental effect on our children.

--Notta

5 comments:

thespookwhosatbythedoor said...

As far as I'm concerned, separate but equal is fine as long as its equal.

The problem with the opinion in Brown v. Board of Education was the implicit assumption that black children must be schooled with with white children in order to succeed. As if somehow the mere presence of a white child will increase the intelligence of the entire classroom. The parents who sued the school districts that fueled the Brown case weren't asking for integration, they merely wanted equal funding. It was the integration politics of the day that drove the whole push for integration in the classroom, which as Notta pointed out has not been of great service to our children in the long run.

While there are benefits to being schooled with white children, it has nothing to do with any intellectual greatness on the part of whites. Because of the politics of racism and economic disparity, majority-white school districts tend to have more resources; mostly because the parents of those chldren make more than their black counterparts similarly educated or not. More funding means more competitive in depth curriculums, and more qualified teachers.

Its a shame that a black parent must subject their child to the alienation of being the only child of color in the room in order to ensure that they receive a competitive education.

VRB said...

Black children become adults in a world where they have to compete with white people. I don't see segregated schools, even having equal facilities, funding and good teachers preparing for that world. I wish there was some way there would be more desegregation. The levels of competition are not always academic. Even having self confidence is not enough, it does not give you any hint of the culture.
In the days of Jim Crow having black teachers and staff did not mean they would be interested in there job or the students. Remember for most, this was the only possible professional job they could get. Some were there to only get a paycheck.
I understand the isolation of being one of the few blacks in a white university; my regret that I was not prepared to compete, having always attended segregated schools.

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Notta Golddigger said...

Thanks Shamoney112. I appreciate it! :)

--Notta

Anonymous said...

I currently attend a high school where the student population is about as diverse as it can be. But the school s completely divided. Everyone knows about the high school social ladder with the polular kids and the nerds and everyone inbetween. At my school there two completely seperate ladders. One for white kids and one for black kids. And then there are the lunch tables. At lunch each table is predominately black or white. There is very little crossing over. It's strange. The only thing keeping us from truly integrating is ourselves.