The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education: Progress
Halted But Not Reversed After 1990
Mumford Center report:
disparities across districts remain
the main obstacle to equal educational opportunity
Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 27, 2004) -- Segregation
within school districts was cut by nearly half
in the wake of the landmark desegregation case,
Brown vs. the Board of Education,
according to a new report released by the University
at Albany's Lewis Mumford Center.
The report is based on analysis of trends for
elementary students in all school districts in
the United States between 1968 and 2000. The results,
according to the Center’s Director John Logan,
show a “stunning” degree of change in segregation.
“Change occurred throughout the country, not
just in districts that were successfully sued.
By 1990 levels of segregation declined dramatically
and were actually lower in the South than elsewhere,”
said Logan. “But progress was stopped in its tracks
after that year, partly due to Supreme Court and
other decisions in the 1990’s that facilitated
the dismissal of desegregation orders.”
The report also documents the sharp limitations
on gains in intergroup contact and equal educational
opportunity for black children that were once
expected to follow from desegregation.
“At the metropolitan level you see concentration
of whites in some districts and blacks in others,
especially in the North and West. This means that
even successful desegregation within districts
leaves white and black children in schools with
very different racial composition and levels of
poverty,” said report co-author Deirdre Oakley.
“The clear conclusion,” adds Logan, “is that
the decision to implement desegregation within
school districts, rejecting inter-district remedies,
has sharply limited progress toward equal educational
The study included creation of the first Web-based
national inventory of school segregation legal
cases, including nearly 400 cases in which desegregation
was mandated by the courts, involving more than
1,000 school districts. The study shows that 75
percent of black students in Southern schools
are in districts affected by a mandated desegregation
plan, as are 62 percent of black students in the
North and West. The majority of cases were decided
before 1970; the most recent case in the Mumford
inventory was decided in 1994.
The report, The Continuing
Legacy of the Brown Decision: Court Action and
School Segregation, 1960-2000, can be viewed
on a Mumford
Center webpage <http://www.albany.edu/mumford/Brown>.
This webpage also allows users to view information
on individual school districts across the country,
including links to legal summaries of relevant
court cases involving the district (if any), trends
in racial composition of students since 1968,
and levels of segregation in 1968, 1990, and 2000.
For more information, contact Mumford Center
Communications Director Merci Miglino, (518) 442-2579
or cell (518) 229-4403, email@example.com.
About the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative
Urban and Regional Research
Recognized as one of the great urbanists of the
20th century, Lewis Mumford endorsed the creation
of the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban
and Regional Research in 1988. Under the leadership
of Director John Logan, the Center currently focuses
on four key initiatives: 1) Global Neighborhoods,
2) the Urban Historical Initiative, 3) the China
Urban Research Network; and 4) the Hudson-Mohawk
Regional Workshop. Each of these projects examines
the impact of global changes on the U.S. metropolis
and civil society, probes the 19th and early 20th
Century roots of present-day cities and suburbs,
and addresses urban change in other parts of the
world, mostly notably China. Visit the Mumford
Center at www.albany.edu/mumford.