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Thursday, June 08, 2006 

State of Our National Education and Opportunity

Has anything changed here in our country after the historical ruling from Brown v. Board of Education - the case that promised equal educational opportunities for all children? Not really.

Millions of students are still not getting the basic education they need to survive and compete in the 21st century.

National Graduation Rates*
  • 75% White (non-Hispanic)
  • 50% Black (non-Hispanic)
  • 53% Hispanic
  • 77% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 51% American Indian/Alaska Native
Segregation Continues**
After the Brown ruling, it took over ten years for the nation to committed to desegregation and it worked right after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As more schools integrated, academic achievement increased for both African American and Hispanic students.

Resegregation began in the 1980s when the courts chipped away desegregation plans - denying new petitions to desegregate schools, ending previous court imposed plans and even striking down voluntary plans created by local school districts. The "Great Communicator" stopped previous aggressive campaigns to enforce the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act that was so successful in the 1960s and '70s. By 1989 schools were beginning to resegregate, reversing many of the academic gains of the previous 20 years.

African American
38% African American students are in extremely segregated schools. The four most segregated states in 2001 for black students were New York, Michigan, Illinois and California. In California and New York, only one black student in seven was in a majority white school and the typical black student was in a school with 82% nonwhite students in New York and 77% in California. In New York 61% of black students were in schools where less than 10% of the student body was white.

Texas is the 13th most segregated state for African Americans, with 37% of Black students in extremely segregated schools (those with a 90-100% minority student body).

Hispanics
42% Hispanic students are in extremely segregated schools. California, New York, and Texas were the most segregated states for Hispanics. In these three states less than a sixth of Latinos were in a majority white school. In New York, 58% of Hispanics state-wide were in schools where less than 10% of the student body was white.

Texas is the 2nd most segregated state for Hispanics, with 48.0% of Hispanic students in extremely segregated schools (those with a 90-100% minority student body).

"In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right that must be made available on equal terms." - Chief Justice Earl Warren, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)


Source:
* Losing Our Future: How Minority Youth Are Being Left Behind by the Graduation Rate Crisis, Gary Orfield, Daniel Losen, Johanna Wald, Christopher B. Swanson, Urban Institute and Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.
** Brown at 50: King's Dream or Plessy's Nightmare?, Gary Orfield and Chungmei Lee, Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.


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