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.