Where are we 60 years after SCOTUS decided Brown v Board of Education

US Supreme Court building - July 1976
Photo by Don Taylor Creative Commons flickr

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Good morning:

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the SCOTUS decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the unanimous court decision. He said,

These cases come to us from the States of Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. They are premised on different facts and different local conditions, but a common legal question justifies their consideration together in this consolidated opinion

In each of the cases, minors of the Negro race, through their legal representatives, seek the aid of the courts in obtaining admission to the public schools of their community on a nonsegregated basis. In each instance, they had been denied admission to schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to race. This segregation was alleged to deprive the plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. In each of the cases other than the Delaware case, a three-judge federal district court denied relief to the plaintiffs on the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine announced by this Court in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537. Under that doctrine, equality of treatment is accorded when the races are provided substantially equal facilities, even though these facilities be separate. In the Delaware case, the Supreme Court of Delaware adhered to that doctrine, but ordered that the plaintiffs be admitted to the white schools because of their superiority to the Negro schools.


Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.


We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

We have the following comment to consider, in response to this PBS News Hour article, Have we abandoned the goals of Brown v. Board of Education?

What we are seeing today should be more aptly termed separation, not segregation. of course those of us who actually lived through segregation, Selma, and MLK being assassinated, who remember seeing these atrocities on the nightly news; we are glad for the progress that has been made. it is important to describe what is going on today accurately, and it is not segregation by law, it may be de-facto segregation, but let’s call it what it is.

Today’s new segregation is a result of socio-economic circumstances, and more importantly how schools are funded. people get a good address for their kids to go to better schools because schools are generally funded by property taxes, so therefore better neighborhoods have better schools. a solution to better schools for poor children may be found in reforming the way schools are funded, or in revitalizing poor neighborhoods.

What do you think?

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11 Responses to Where are we 60 years after SCOTUS decided Brown v Board of Education

  1. MKX says:

    Magnet and private schools also introduce selection bias because they tend to admit those individual students with higher test scores. This drains the poorer or mainstream public schools of their best talent, thus causing a drop in their average test scores and giving life to the false meme that they are “failing”.

    Put it this way, I could go to three gyms, and take away their “best” by giving a free a membership at my gym, and “claim” I get “results”.

  2. bettykath says:

    The schools are as segregated now as they were before Brown v Board of Ed. The segregation is due to geography and the fact that Blacks are steered to the same neighborhoods. Since the schools rely in property taxes, the poorer neighborhoods have less money per student to work with. Charter schools are siphoning off more money from the public schools. Soon the entire education system will be privatized.

    In either VT or NH, the state changed the way school money was doled out. They made single property tax for education apply to everyone with the money doled out by the state such that each school district got the same amount of money per student. The tax rate in the poorer districts went down, the rate in the richer districts went up! It was a far more equitable system. Guess who screamed the loudest about how unfair the new system was?

    • Soon the entire education system will be privatized.

      I cannot imagine a worse outcome for education. Fraud will be rampant as crooks create bogus schools. Literacy rates will plunge and the rich will become even richer.

  3. MKX says:

    IMO, integration of schools goes along with integration of neighborhoods. I am starting to see a lot of that in Montgomery County, MD and the Northern Va. suburbs. Less so, in PG County. PG county was the de-facto suburb that black people were steered to by real estate agents, once the “keep them all in the city” game was over.

    Enculturation is a funny thing. One of the “blackest” persons in my gym is Bobby. Bobby is a white male who grew up in PG county.

    It seems to me that there is a great fear amongst many white people of being a “minority” within a community. I have read that the threshold is around 20%.

    It is all under the guise of protecting their children.

    IMO, they are not doing their children a favor. I was brought up to see all segments of society because my father thought that overprotecting a child produces a mouse, rather than a man.

    And the working world our children will inherit will demand people who can deal with all cultures.

    Imagine going to an interview with Coca Cola, a company with substantial assets in all parts of the world; and stating that diversity sucks, and you are glad your parents protected you from all that.

  4. Looks like a good documentary to check out tonight:

    “The System with Joe Berlinger,” premiering on Al Jazeera America on Sunday, will explore the complexities of the U.S. criminal justice system in an eight-part series that uses real cases to question the effectiveness of laws.

  5. ed nelson says:

    ?”/where are we… charlie… ?”…

    Stupid is… and stupid is my answer Sir! We is pretty stupid as a people here in the USA…

    I would like to offer the book: “Dumbing Us Down”, by the author: John Gatto, a retired NYC school teacher, he tells the story real good.

    I also liked the books by old… another retired NYC school teacher.. from Ireland… via NYC!!… “Angela’s Ashes”,

    Read and head, but if these cocksuckers don’t want to open up a fuk’n ass book and read… what hope is there for these morons?


  6. Malisha says:

    In 2001 I produced and directed a play in an inner city grammar school (elementary school?) where there was a “school within a school” run on Montessori principles. That school had not a single white kid, not a single Hispanic kid, not a single Asian kid, not a single kid born in another country (except perhaps a pair of twins born in Haiti). Since the Montessori program is a bit deficient in the areas of art, music and drama, the three Montessori teachers, who were friends of mine, asked me to combine the three and write a play that would require the concentrated effort of every one of their students, from ages 3 through 12 (grouped into three “grades” in Montessori). This comprised 71 students. They read (or read aloud to each other) assigned books (about Dred Scott and the Dred Scott case), designed and created the sets (movable) and costumes, made and obtained props, learned 9 Negro Spirituals and four dances, and produced the play. And of course, Black kids played all the roles, including that of the white US Supreme Court Justice, Roger Taney, who made the shameful Dred Scott decision.

    In addition to every student there being African American, every student there was entitled to free breakfast and free lunch under the federal guidelines for poverty. In other words, EVERY SINGLE PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT IN THAT GEOGRAPHICAL AREA was living below the poverty line!

    From this experience, I concluded that poor kids are great actors. They studied the Dred Scott case that year; they did not have time to study Brown v. Board of Ed.

    • That must have been an incredible amount of work and I’ll bet it was exciting and rewarding to see everyone grow into their roles.

      • Malisha says:

        Yes. In fact the intermediary class (ages 6-9) did the casting for us, and they chose a short fellow to play Dred and a tall girl to play his wife, Harriett. But they WORKED! The actor who played Dred went on (from a home in which addiction, poverty illiteracy and prison were parts of the picture) to get a scholarship to the best private high school in the city and thence to an Ivy League college, also on full scholarship. He gave a brilliant performance as Dred and in the end, when he and his daughters (and wife) were reunited, he ad-libbed “GROUP HUG!” The teachers had the kids write thank-you notes to me afterwards and my favorite (from a kid who insisted he did not want to take part but who then did very well as the journalist reporting the case) was:

        “Dear Malisha,

        “Thank you for helping us with the Dred Scott play. I had the best time of all and it was good when they clapped for me at the end. And I don’t want to ever do it again, OK? Love, Journalist.”

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