School Segregation Rises as Brown Ruling 60th Anniversary Nears

Racial segregation is still a prominent feature of U.S. public schools for black and Latino students, 60 years after the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the practice, according to a report.

Racial disparity is led by the isolation of Latinos in the West and blacks in the Northeast, according to a study by the University of California at Los Angeles. Latino populations now surpass blacks as the most segregated population in suburban America, the study found.

“Segregation is usually segregation by both race and poverty,” co-authors Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg said in the report released today. “Black and Latino students tend to be in schools with a substantial majority of poor children, but white and Asian students are typically in middle class schools.”

A 30 percent drop in white student enrollment and an almost quintupling of Latinos since the civil rights era has led to racial separation in the country’s largest public-school regions, according to the report. The study comes days before the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which concluded that “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place” in public schools.

School Integration

The ruling paved the way for integration by striking down state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students. It was a major victory for the civil rights movement, which had been using the courts to fight legally sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the South.

“It’s time for us to think about this again, and develop new theories of civil rights as U.S. demographics change,” Orfield said on a conference call. “We need large changes in policy.”

New York, Illinois and California are among the worst states for isolating black students, the report said, adding that segregation has increased substantially since court-ordered efforts to integrate schools were terminated.

While the South is now the least segregated region in the country for blacks, it has lost all progress made since 1967, the study found.

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