In September of 1957, nine black students needed federal troops and the National Guard in order to get them to school at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. Today, the law that kept students in “separate but equal” classrooms no longer exists, but for many students around the country, economics and geography can mean that the students of one race or the other all end up at the same school.
To help prevent that from happening, government often intervenes, creating programs and providing transportation to schools in different neighborhood’s than the student lives in – encouraging desegregation and increasing diversity for everyone. Many studies have shown that this means a better education for everyone. However, an Arkansas judge recently ruled to end the funding of desegregation programs, which now cost the state around $70 million dollars a year. And Arkansas isn’t the only state dealing with this issue right now.
Without funding, many classrooms in many communities would once again be split along color lines – segregated. The students we spoke to in Arkansas were mostly against the judge’s decision. However, with schools everywhere facing budget cuts, it’s unclear how this issue will end. Right now, we want to hear your ideas about it.
If you want to find out how diverse your community is, check out this New York Times’ Interactive feature.
UPDATE: On December 28th, an Arkansas appeals court ruled that the state cannot cut off funding for desegregation programs. You can read more about the decision here.