Thursday, October 14, 2010

Integration in the School Systems

            Throughout this semester, a main focus of ours has been discussing the desegregation of schools across the United States. The Brown v. Board of Education decision was made on May 17, 1954, stating that separate is inherently equal, and that schools must desegregate at a “deliberate speed.” Many residents in communities took the initiative to start desegregating schools as soon as possible, with certain stipulations such as enrolling African American students one year at a time. Most cities though, especially in the Deep South, worked to appear “deliberate” with their desegregation, but in actuality were creating more ways around racially mixing schools.
            We discussed that one way around desegregation was to zone schools according to neighborhoods. City officials would decide which students went to which schools-- grouping then according to the part of town they lived in. This turned out to be an extremely effective way of remaining segregated because of the ways in which members of society most likely live in proximity to people of similar backgrounds.
            It has been over 66 years since The Supreme Court handed down the Brown v. Board ruling. Until I started tutoring in Memphis and taking this class this semester, I had never bothered to think about what has changed in the American school system. Has our educational system become desegregated, or are we really just as segregated of a society as we were half a century ago?
            I never paid much attention before, but now the issue has become something that I’m noticing more, and it seems as though we have made very little progress in desegregating schools, especially those that are urban. I tutored reading for 5th graders last year at Cypress Elementary just down the street and I realized that nearly every student in that school is African American. I determined that this is most likely a result of the zoning done by the district. It is sad that so many years have gone by since that landmark court case, but so few changes have been made. In the suburb that I grew up in, it was the opposite—many students in my school were white. I never paid much attention because I grew up in an accepting family, so it didn’t make a difference to me when I went to a more diverse high school. But I wonder what this type of homogenous climate does for other students who are not as fortunate to grow up learning about diversity of race, religion and sexual orientation and tolerance of differences.
            Students who go to schools with just students of their own race may grow up missing key lessons about acceptance and tolerance. I don’t know exactly what can be done, but I believe cities need to find better ways to integrate their school systems. 


  1. I, too, went to a predominately white high school. Out of my class of 600 students, there 2 African Americans. We did have students of different ethnicities, however my school was not considered diverse. I also came from a family that was accepting and open, but it was always a question in my mind why this area was not diverse whatsoever. And I agree, the zoning laws that were put into place in the south to work around Brown v Board still play a role in who attends what school. I suppose this is because the act, in the grand scheme of things, was not passed too long ago. It is bizarre to think that not too long ago, city leaders were planning ways to keep my part of town all the same. Time will have to pass for real change to be made in where people live, where they go to school, etc.

  2. I agree with her questioning the fact that segregation may still exist today for similar reasons. My high school was predominantly African American. However, we were seen as "diverse" by the faculty and staff because we had people of various other ethnic groups who attended as well. However, I fail to understand this logic when there is clearly a large distinction between the majority and the minority. This brings me to my analysis of Rhodes College. This institution is seen as diverse but I challenge you to walk to the Rat or sit in the Barrett Library and look around. What do you see? In my opinion, I would be lucky to see ONE Black person because we are so few in number here. The white race is the majority. I don't follow the logic that this school is diverse when it is apparent that our numbers barely reach 100 people out of a body of almost 2000. How diverse is that?