Opinion
Equity & Diversity Opinion

Brown: 60 Years Hence

By Patricia Gándara — May 14, 2014 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The aspiration of the Brown era was that, through greater equality of educational opportunity, we could build a stronger, more democratic nation: sending children of different racial groups to school to learn together would create a unified and more equitable society.

Patricia Gándara
Our most lofty aspirations remain the same today, but through neglect, and sometimes more insidious means, we have allowed that dream to be put on permanent hold.

Although there have been some gains, especially in the South, we have made relatively little progress toward that integrated society to which we aspired. White students remain the most segregated group in our nation, and while they attend the most highly resourced schools and therefore benefit from the greatest educational opportunities, they are also failing to get the kind of education that will prepare them for the world in which they will live. And Asians are now outpacing whites with respect to educational opportunity.

Four themes emerge from the new data on segregation in America.

(1) The shift in demographics and regional variation: Latinos are now more segregated than blacks (the old black-white paradigm has shifted), and this is especially true in the West and in the cities and suburbs, though pockets of deep segregation of Latinos are scattered throughout the country. And, rather than moving toward more integration, Latinos are becoming increasingly segregated unto themselves, often in triple segregation: by ethnicity, income, and language.

(2) Poverty is closely tied to race and ethnicity: Black and Latino students are about three times more likely to be living in poverty as whites and Asians, and social mobility is declining. A prime reason for this is that blacks and Latinos are concentrated in the states that are the most miserly with respect to per-pupil spending, and in which poverty and segregation are the most concentrated.

(3) While evidence has mounted that segregated, impoverished schools simply cannot overcome the negative effects of poverty and neighborhood dysfunction, we have blamed the schools and their teachers and simply exhorted them—with the same inadequate resources—to meet higher standards instead of focusing on the root causes of academic underperformance.

(4) Although we aspire to be a society unlike the one we have created (surveys show that most Americans believe that opportunity should be fairly distributed), systematic policies and wholesale neglect have ensured that segregation by race, ethnicity, income, and language are increasingly concretized. Housing policies that would help desegregate neighborhoods are never considered, school assignment policies that would bring more diverse students into contact in the same schools are avoided, magnet schools, dual-language programs, and other integrative schooling arrangements are rationed. Many states—especially those in the South and West that serve the largest number of black and Latino students—have disinvested in their public schools as they cut budgets and turn increasingly to privatization.

Ironically, as the nation becomes more diverse, we become more isolated from one another, and as the benefits of diversity become more evident in a globalizing world, the United States squanders this resource. And the promise of Brown remains empty rhetoric.

Patricia Gándara is research professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. She also serves on President Obama’s Commission on Hispanic Education. She is co-author of The Latino Education Crisis (Harvard Press, 2009) and co-editor of The Bilingual Advantage, Language, Literacy and the U.S. Labor Market (Multilingual Matters, forthcoming 2014).

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in OpEducation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution
The pandemic has only made the student homelessness situation more volatile. Schools don’t have to go it alone.
5 min read
Conceptual illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity How Have the Debates Over Critical Race Theory Affected You? Share Your Story
We want to hear how new constraints on teaching about racism have affected your schools.
1 min read
Illustrations.
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Educational Equity Descends Into Educational Nihilism
Schools need to buckle down to engage and educate kids—not lower (or eliminate) expectations in the name of “equity.”
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty