[According to a Harvard study], During the past 25 years, "there has been no significant leadership towards the goal of creating a successfully integrated society builty on integrated schools and neighborhoods." The last constructive act by Congress was the 1972 enactment of a federal program to provide financial aid to districts undertaking efforts at desegregation, which, however, was "repealed by the Reagan administration in 1981." The Supreme Court "began limiting desegregation in key ways in 1974"--and actively dismantling existing integration programs in 1991.
"Desegregation did not fail. In spite of a very brief period of serious enforcement..., the desegregation era was a period in which minority high school graduates increased sharply and the racial test score gaps narrowed substantially until they began to widen again in the 1990s...In the two largest educationaa\l inovations of the past two decades--standards-based reform and school choice--the issue of racial segregation and its consequences has been ignored."
The study is from Gary Orfield and his colleagues. The book is Jonathan Kozol's current The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. I urge, in the strongest terms I possibly can, everyone who cares about the country to read Kozol's beautiful and sad descriptions of what's going on in schools that are 85, 95, and even 99.8 percent African-American and Hispanic. It is devastating. It (yes) shames me as an American. It motivates me.
Rosa Parks died as I was reading Kozol's book, gearing up for the sermon and talk he'll give at my church next week. I now will always associate Kozol's pleas with her death.
Mrs. Parks, thank you for your fight. On behalf of those who love what you and America stand for, I'm sorry we've let you down. I hope we earn back your victory and your legacy, but I currently have no reason to be optimistic.