Does the U.S. need to desegregate schools again? | The Tylt
It is the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School. But in the decades since the civil rights movement, schools have actually become more segregated due in part to "white flight." Some believe the U.S. should take steps to desegregate schools again―separate is not equal after all―but others feel the federal government shouldn't mandate where parents choose to send their kids. What do you think? 🚌
Does the U.S. need to desegregate schools again?
In the decades since "Brown v. Board of Education," segregation in schools has been on the rise despite the desegregation efforts of the 1960s. Jelani Cobb argues in The New Yorker that the U.S. has not done enough to desegregate schools; self-segregation continues to exist in the American education system.
Cobb points to the New York City public school system as one example of hyper-segregation in the supposed "post-racial" era.
...a recent report by the Civil Rights Project at U.C.L.A. found [the New York City public school system] to be one of the most segregated in the country. Black and Latino students in New York have become more likely to attend schools with minimal white enrollment, and a majority of them go to schools defined by concentrated poverty.
New York is simultaneously the most diverse city in the United States and the most glaring indicator of integration’s failures.
Cobb believes successfully integrating schools will require the U.S. to also address issues like housing policy and income inequality to combat segregation in the education system.
And so, sixty years after Brown, it is clear that the notion of segregation as a discrete phenomenon, an evil that could be flipped, like a switch, from on to off, by judicial edict, was deeply naïve. The intervening decades have shown, in large measure, the limits of what political efforts directed at desegregation alone could achieve, and the crumbling of both elements of “separate but equal” has left us at an ambivalent juncture. To the extent that desegregation becomes, once again, a pressing concern—and even that may be too grand a hope—it will have to involve the tax code, the minimum wage, and other efforts to redress income inequality.
But not everyone believes amping up desegregation efforts is such a good idea. Katie Modesitt argues in The Federalist that, while there is no doubt schools suffer from de facto segregation, forced interference from the federal government is not the solution.
Self-segregation is supported legally and historically in a number of ways, including housing discrimination and a funding mechanism rooted in local property taxes, but the ability of local residents to create their own homogenous schools has people calling for increased federal interference.
Modesitt argues school choice empowers parents to make decisions about where to send their kids to school, and serve as a much better solution to the issue of racial segregation in schools.
The solution is difficult to achieve but within reach: rational parental choice should be better aligned with our societal goals of integration and diversity. This way, families can continue to make individual decisions that don’t create further racial and socioeconomic segregation.