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News Release


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 opportunity. “

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, mmiglino@albany.edu.

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.


The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. The University has launched a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit www.albany.edu. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.htm.