Segregation is an imminent issue in schools
The Blair community prides itself on its diversity. Within the student body are people from a wide spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. Students from almost the entire county attend Blair. However, Blair is a rarity in an age when schools are more segregated than in 1971.
This phenomenon of segregation is a growing concern, as it has been linked to detrimental effects on the academics of Black and Hispanic students. There are two main culprits for modern-day segregation: the granting of unitary status and de facto segregation in residential areas. As everyone can recall from history class, the Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal in its Brown v. Board of Education decision, as equal education opportunities could not exist for all public school students under such conditions. The decision led to major efforts to desegregate schools across the country, mainly through forced busing which faced much resistance. However, since the 1991 decision in Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell, many school districts formerly under court order to desegregate, have been granted unitary status. Unitary status means the courts ruled the school districts demonstrated, "to the extent practicable", reversal of segregation's effects and evidence they would not return to discriminatory policy. This led to the inversion or halt of the progress many school districts made. In addition to unitary status, residential segregation is also a large cause of re-segregation. Most school districts assign schools based on neighborhood location, which means the historic segregation of residential areas leaches into schools. Rather than the forced busing programs implemented following Brown v. Board of Education, a modern day tactic used to integrate schools is the establishment of Magnet programs to attract students from more affluent areas of the district.
Desegregation is a crucial instrument in closing the achievement gap and enhancing the education of all students. It is important to equalize access to important education resources for students regardless of race or residence. There is no panacea for segregation, as it is an issue that is deeply ingrained into our institutions; hundreds of years of history cannot be undone overnight. However, there are steps that can be taken such as allowing parents and students expanded choice for schools and educating parents on the benefits of diverse classrooms. Lawmakers and school districts need to figure out a solution and stop dismissing segregation as a "problem of the past."
Zewde Ingram. More »