A School Cut in Half: How Can We Integrate Schools in the United States?

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School districts where there is an uneven distribution of Black students and White students across schools.

Data taken in 2018 by projects.propublica.org

Education is arguably the most important part of humanity, and it should be an important part of everybody’s life. Education is how we can teach the future generation the other important parts of humanity when we leave. I always believed that education should be nothing but the best for every student. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world where everybody gets what they want. 

One of the many ways students get left behind is in the United States’ school segregation. Although it was outlawed in 1954, school segregation still exists especially in the south, northeast, LA, and the Bay Area. We can clearly see a divide in quality of education between wealthier, predominantly white schools when compared to poorer, predominantly minority schools.  I wanted to know how it still exists and how to integrate more schools, so most students could have a chance at a better education. 

Historical Problem

General segregation started in 1865 when the slaves were freed, schools falling into segregation. The 14th and 15th amendment were later passed to give nonwhites better treatment, but many states found ways to get around these amendments. This paved the way for the Jim Crow era, the era that most people think of when they hear segregation. The first notable effort for desegregation in general was Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. The case challenged the legality of segregation, but the Supreme Court decided the infamous “separate but equal” decision for decades. This was later changed by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, for the supreme court ruled that segregation for children in public schools was unconstitutional. This landmark case kept the ball rolling in the civil rights movement. 

Brown v. Board of Education should have fixed school segregation, but school integration efforts dwindled in the late 1980s. It was either believed that school integration had already succeeded or that it was not necessary. Though regulations and efforts from the government decreased, legal battles in the 1990s continued, but many were shut down. School segregation still continues to this day, and an incredible gap between how much is spent between white and nonwhite students is moving back to the level before Brown v. Board of Education. What caused the comeback and how can it be solved?

For more information see this document

Current Situation

Looking at the current school segregation situation, the solution will be much more difficult to come by. All of the past legal solutions had major flaws because of how easy they are to evade. A good example of this is the 14th and 15th amendments. Although it was written into law, people could find loopholes in these laws in the same way people find loopholes in school integration laws. The core of modern school segregation is in systemic school funding. Predominantly white, wealthy neighborhoods are going to have tax payers in higher tax brackets, and  predominantly nonwhite, poorer neighborhoods are going to have a lot of people in lower tax brackets. Because school districts mostly draw their money from property taxes, nonwhite neighborhoods are hit the hardest with students that have lower quality schools. This problem is very common today in the South, California, and big cities on the East Coast. 

An important issue to keep in mind is that simply rearranging the school districts so that the wealth can be spread will only postpone the problem. Wealthier parents can simply move out of relocated school districts to better schools and creates the same situation with many poor nonwhites left behind. A possible solution is to change from a district system to a state system, so all the wealth is spread to each school depending on the students or necessary funding. This solves the mobility problem because the entire state is taxed. Another macro solution is to make bait independent or charter schools that keep wealthier taxpayers in districts that need funding. These macro level solutions can succeed if you make your voice heard.Letting the government know of this issue can allow them to make good change on the modern school segregation issue. 

For more information see this document

For Now

A great way for you to make an impact is to volunteer at organizations or charities that assist lower income students. For instance, in Oakland we have the Mosaic Project, Child Family Health International, Reading Partners, and many more. Organizations like this offer tutoring, assistance to transfer students, family events, and fundraisers to help schools and students at a lower income level. If you go to a private school, you could always ask your schools about their admission and financial aid policy. There are tons of bright kids that never get a chance to show their potential because of a lower quality education. 

As stated before, education is one of the most important things to me. It makes me so sad to see kids suffer without ever getting a baseline education. Especially in the United States, we can do so much more for lower income families and segregated areas of education. I see school segregation in the two cities next to where I live. Orinda is a mostly white and asian suburban area with fantastic schools, and Oakland is a diverse urban and suburban area with some great and not so great schools. There are lots of students in Oakland that go to lower quality, segregated schools. I believe this is a problem we can fix, but there are some unrealistic solutions. I tried to offer the ones I thought would have the highest chance of success because of how unlikely some solutions were to pass or evade like the 14th and 15th amendments. 

 

If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to go to this form or use the comments. What did you think of my project? Where can I improve my solutions at micro and macro levels? Thank you so much for stopping by.

 

Work Cited and Consulted

 

 

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