Articles tagged with Brown v. Board of Education

PBS’s Frontline examines the resurgence of school segregation in America

PBS’s Frontline will feature upcoming programming about resegregation in America, “Separate and Unequal,” following the recent 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education. Tune in to PBS on July 15, 2014 (check your local listings for time) for Frontline’s two-part examination of what’s behind the growing racial divide in American schools, and the legacy of Brown.

Frontline will profile Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Parish School District, which desegregated its schools in 1981 following a 25-year-long legal battle. Today, frustrated with the district’s many low-performing schools, a constituent group of mostly white, middle-class parents and business leaders have a bold plan to break away from the school district and Baton Rouge to form a new city with its own separate schools. If they succeed, the newly formed school district would be more affluent and predominantly white, and the East Baton Rouge Parish School District would be left essentially resegregated, with a student population of mostly black students from lower-income families.

Also, be sure to read American School Board Journal’s coverage of Brown’s legacy and future and National School Boards Association’s (NSBA)Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel reflection on the impact of Brown and the challenges that public schools still face in the Huffington Post. PBS had alerted us about the Frontline programming following NSBA’s recent coverage of Brown.

Margaret Suslick|July 14th, 2014|Categories: Urban Schools, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

In Huffington Post column, Gentzel calls for vigilance in Brown decision

To mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel reflected on the impact of the decision and the challenges that public schools still face. The following commentary was published by the Huffington Post:


In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a timeless and transformative message: All students deserve a great public education; separate systems are not equal.

In marking the 60th anniversary of this landmark Supreme Court ruling, it is important to reflect upon the ongoing effect of Brown v. Board of Education on the work of America’s school boards and our nation’s public schools. Enshrining this decision as a historic relic does not serve the nine out of 10 school-age children who attend our nation’s public schools. To protect students’ rights, freedoms and ready access to a high-quality education, we must actively heed the central tenets of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is particularly concerned about the unintended consequences of privatization through vouchers, charter schools not governed by local school boards, and other means that research indicates are leading to the re-segregation of public schools, mainly in high-poverty urban areas.

In its most recent issue, NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal, reports that the number of schools with a minority enrollment above 90 percent has climbed precipitously. Similarly, the Civil Rights Project at the University of California-Los Angeles also has reported that African-American and Hispanic students are increasingly segregated at the schools they attend.

Ironically, this comes at a time when America’s public schools are becoming much more diverse. The percentage of students who are white dropped from 61 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2010, and today stands at about 50 percent. Schools in the south and west now have a majority of minority students, according to the National Center on Education Statistics. And with more than half of babies born today falling into a minority classification, demographics will continue to diversify. At the same time, poverty and other risk factors also have increased.

Our lawmakers must continue to look at the entire public education system to ensure that we invest in our public schools and give them the support that is needed, rather than diverting scarce taxpayer dollars to voucher schemes and charter schools that lack local school district oversight. Today more than ever, it is essential that we continue to focus on ensuring that every child has access to an excellent and equitable education.

Data show public schools are educating today’s diverse student population to higher levels than ever before. We should be proud that our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high — about 80 percent of students graduate on time, and when late graduates are included, the graduation rate rises to more than 85 percent. The graduation rate of Hispanics, the fastest growing group of students in our nation’s schools, jumped from 61 percent to 76 percent between 2006 and 2012. And African-American students made significant gains during this period, improving their graduation rate from 59 percent to 68 percent.

Brown v. Board of Education honors a truth core to our nation’s democracy: to provide a strong education to each and every child who enters our nation’s public school system. We must stay focused on investing equitably in our public schools and students, ensuring that they have the resources and support they need, and we must not be diverted by programs that have the effect of re-segregating America’s public education system. We must honor Brown v. Board of Education‘s intention for every child to achieve, and we must insist that every child in America has access to a great public school where they live. No exceptions; no excuses.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 19th, 2014|Categories: School Law, Charter Schools, Diversity, Privatization, Urban Schools, Board governance, Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA calls for equity in education with the upcoming 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honors the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling by calling on America’s school boards, parents and communities to continue to ensure that public education is a right made available to all students on equal terms.

“The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision catalyzed education reform and reminds us to be ever vigilant in challenging segregation to maintain a civil society,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “School boards believe that every child in America should be able to attend a great public school where they live—no exceptions, no excuses.”

The urgency of the 60th anniversary is that segregation is not an issue of yesteryear – it is a growing concern today. While the Brown v. Board decision made clear the inherent inequality of a separate educational system based on race, today the data show that many areas have been resegregating. NSBA is particularly concerned about the impact of resegregation for schools in underserved communities. Research shows that students learn more—both academically and socially—in settings where their peers may be of a different race and have different life experiences.

In a special report on the Brown decision, NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), reports that the number of schools with a minority enrollment above 90 percent has climbed precipitously. In a video segment, ASBJ shows the legacy of Brown and the challenges that the Pittsburgh school district currently faces in integrating its schools when most of its neighborhoods are highly segregated.

ASBJ also has created a timeline documenting major events and court cases involving racial issues in public education.

NSBA is encouraging public schools across the country to mark the anniversary with an appropriate ceremony and remembrance. Through a resolution issued by our Board of Directors on behalf of this nation’s 90,000 school board members, NSBA and its state associations are promoting district-level activity that activates students’ personal commitment to democracy and recognizes the contributions of civil rights leaders.

NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education also is commemorating this important anniversary with a year-long focus on special programming focusing on excellence, equity, and unity to advance urban education.

“The mission of the National School Boards Association to advocate for equity and excellence remains ever-vigilant as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision,” said NSBA President Anne M. Byrne, a school board member from New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District. “School board leadership is essential to protect our public schools and demand that equitable funding and equitable resources be made available so that each child has the opportunity to achieve, no matter where they live.”

Alexis Rice|May 13th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Diversity, Multimedia and Webinars, School Climate, CUBE|Tags: , , , |

Diversity and student assignment: A legal view

Try to answer this question about one of the most significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history:

The 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated the public schools – did it a) ensure that black students had access to the same educational advantages as white students, or b) assure that educational decisions in the public schools would not be based on race?

If you answered “both,” you might be right, but it wouldn’t help you come to a decision in a subsequent student assignment case, PICS v. Seattle. In this case, a divided Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the diversity plans of the Seattle and Kentucky’s Louisville public schools were unconstitutional. And that’s because justices on both sides of the 5-4 decision invoked the famous Topeka, Kan., case and its legacy in justifying their decisions

“Fifty-years later … is PICS v. Seattle the New Brown v. Board of Education” was the title of this breakout session at Saturday’s Leadership Conference. It was led by Jay Worona, general counsel of the New York State School Boards Association, and Francisco M. Negrón Jr., general counsel of NSBA. And yes, Negrón said, the title was meant to be a little facetious because the opposing sides in the later case disagreed vehemently on just what the legacy of Brown meant.

For dissenting justices Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens, the two districts’ student assignment plans, which used race in some instances to diversity popular schools, was in keeping with the reasoning of Brown.

“[The] history books do not tell stories of white children struggling to attend black schools…,” Stevens wrote.

But Justice Clarence Thomas, a member of the court majority, characterized Breyer’s dissent as “[d]isfavoring a color blind interpretation of the Constitution.”

So does this mean school districts cannot consider race when making student assignments? Actually no, Negrón said. In trying to diversify schools, districts can still consider race, as long as it is part of a well-reasoned decision that also involves other factors, such as socioeconomic status, geographic location, and parental education levels. What schools may not do, he said, is to use race to determine where an individual student goes to school.

The key is to consider the educational advantages of diversity, rather than diversity of its own sake.

“You should think about diversity as something that academically benefits all of your students,” Negrón said.

For more information, see the NSBA publication Achieving Educational Excellence for All: A Guide to Diversity-Related Policy Strategies for School Districts.

Lawrence Hardy|February 4th, 2012|Categories: School Boards, School Law, Diversity, Leadership, Leadership Conference 2012|Tags: , , , , , |
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