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School integration is the bringing together of students from diverse ethnic, racial and religious groups into single schools.
In the USA[edit | edit source]
The process of desegregation in the US focused on the concept of busing students, a practice of assigning and transporting students to schools in such a manner as to redress prior racial segregation of schools, or to overcome the effects of residential segregation on local school demographics.
Impediments to integrated schools[edit | edit source]
In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that forced busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation. However, such court-enforced school desegregation efforts have decreased over time.
A major decline in manufacturing in northern cities, with a shift of jobs to suburbs, the South and overseas, has led shifts in numbers of residents of all races increasing in suburbs, plus major shifts in population from the North to the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and South. Left behind in many northern and midwestern inner cities have been the poorest blacks and other minorities. According to Jonathan Kozol, in the early 21st century U.S. schools have again become as segregated as in the late 1960s.
According to the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, the desegregation of U.S. public schools peaked in 1988; since then, schools have become more segregated. As of 2005, the proportion of Black students at majority white schools was at "a level lower than in any year since 1968." 
Some critics of school desegregation have argued that court-enforced desegregation efforts were either unnecessary or self-defeating. Numerous middle-class and wealthy white people continued moving from cities to suburbs during the 1970s and later, in part to escape certain integrated school systems, but also as part of a suburbanization of the society, caused by movement of jobs to suburbs, continuing state and Federal support for expansion of highways, and changes in the economy.
Some white parents in Louisiana said that they were afraid to drop their children off because of all the mobs surrounding the desegregated schools.
Sociologist David Armor in court testimony and in his book Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law (1995) said that efforts to change the racial compositions of schools had not contributed substantially to academic achievement by minorities. Carl L. Bankston III and Stephen J. Caldas, in their books A Troubled Dream: The Promise and Failure of School Desegregation in Louisiana (2002) and Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation (2005), argued that continuing racial inequality in the larger American society had undermined efforts to force schools to desegregate. They maintained that racial inequality had resulted in popular associations between school achievement and race. Therefore, the achievement levels of American schools were generally associated with their class and racial compositions. This meant that even parents without racial prejudice tended to seek middle class or better residential neighborhoods in seeking the best schools for their children. As a result, efforts to impose court-ordered desegregation often led to school districts in which there were too few white students for effective desegregation, as white students increasingly left for majority white suburban districts or for private schools.
Problems of a diverse society[edit | edit source]
- For more details on this topic, see Lowell High School (San_Francisco)#Academics and admissions.
The increasing diversity of American society has led to more complex issues related to school and ethnic proportion. In the 1994 federal court case Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District, parents of Chinese-American schoolchildren alleged that racial caps under a 1983 consent decree constituted racial discrimination in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The desegregation plan did not allow any school to enroll more than 50 percent of any ethnic group. Originally intended to aid integration of blacks, the ruling had a negative effect on the admissions of Chinese students, who had become the largest ethnic group in the district. Asians of all ethnicities comprise more than 50 percent of students in the early 21st century.
Articles in the newspaper Asian Week documented the Chinese American parents' challenge. Since Chinese Americans were already nearly half the student population, the consent decree had the effect of requiring competitive Lowell high school to apply much higher academic admission standards for Chinese-American students than other students. The civil rights group Chinese for Affirmative Action, led by Henry Der, sided with the school district. They argued that such standards were not harmful to Chinese Americans, and were necessary to avoid resegregation of schools. In effect, a ruling designed to eliminate discrimination against blacks had instead created a situation in which Chinese American students could be discriminated against. Similarly, an organization dedicated to the elimination of discrimination against Chinese found itself supporting a policy that resulted in such discrimination. In 2006, Chinese parents continued to protest race-based school assignments.
The best means for achieving desegregated schools in a society divided by class and, in many areas, ethnic groups, continues to be a matter of debate and disagreement.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Jonathan Kozol, Segregation and Its Calamitous Effects: America's "Apartheid" Schools, VUE (Voices in Urban Education), Number 10, Winter 2006, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University.
- Jonathan Kozol, "Overcoming Apartheid", The Nation, December 19, 2005. p. 26
- UPI.com, Year in Review, http://www.upi.com/Audio/Year_in_Review/Events-of-1960/Kennedy-Wins-1960-Presidential-Election/12295509435928-8/#title
-  "Back to School for Integration: The Catch-22 of Excellence and Diversity Without Race", Asian Week