A study by researchers at the School of Education at Stanford University finds that racial segregation in hundreds of large and mid-size school districts has increased after the systems were no longer under judicial oversight of their desegregation plans. The study, published in the Journal of Policy Analysis found that nearly half of the 500 schools districts that were under court order to desegregate in 1990 have been released from judicial oversight. Some 85 percent of these school districts are in southern states.
The study found that when schools are relieved of judicial oversight, the districts tended to become more racially segregated. In fact, the study says that districts that were released from court orders saw racial segregation grow faster than 90 percent of other school districts. The research found that the resegregation of the schools was most prevalent at the elementary level. This could be a reflection of the fact that neighborhoods remain largely racially segregated and many elementary schools serve particular neighborhoods whereas as secondary schools may be larger and more centrally located.
“The study shows that many of the gains that resulted from the Brown decision are being lost,” said Sean Reardon, a professor of education at Stanford and the lead author of the research paper. “While the schools in these districts aren’t becoming as segregated as they were before Brown, they are becoming much more segregated than they were 20 years ago.”
The article, “Brown Fades: The End of Court-Ordered School Desegregation and the Resegregation of American Public Schools,” may be accessed here. The school district data analyzed for the study can be downloaded here.