Lost Equality of Opportunity Is Biggest Threat to Education

Diamonds are forever. Desegregation orders will be, too, if our end goal for Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is merely to color-code American classrooms rather than to create equality of opportunity.

The latest case comes from the state of Mississippi. On May 13, to meet a desegregation order that began in the 1960s, a U.S. district judge ordered the state’s Cleveland School District to consolidate its two middle and high schoolsbeginning in the 2016-’17 school year. According to Judge Debra M. Brown, Cleveland’s failure to consolidate its largely racially separate schools in the past had “deprived generations of students of the constitutionally guaranteed right to an integrated education.” This is just one of hundreds of cases like it; the Justice Department currently has 177 open desegregation cases.

Enforcing desegregation orders is important because desegregation’s effects on American schooling have been positive. For example, a 2015 report found that black children born between 1945 and 1968 who attended a desegregated school were more likely to complete college, more likely to earn a higher salary, less likely to be incarcerated and had better health than their peers.

Read more about the lost equality of opportunity due to an overdependence on desegregation policy.