Shelby: Earlier this week, we told you about the landmark Supreme Court case that banned segregation, or laws separating people based on race. But sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, schools are still divided. Maggie Rulli has the story.
Nyah Dias: We’re basically all the same.
Maggie: Nyah Dias is a sixth grader at Park Slope Collegiate in Brooklyn, New York in what used to be a minority neighborhood. For the last ten years, fewer than 1% of the kids here were white. But the neighborhood changed, and now it is mostly white. But white students weren’t coming to this school.
Principal Jill Bloomberg: Good morning!
Maggie: So, Principal Jill Bloomberg worked to diversify her school by reaching out to local parents.
Principal Bloomberg: As a system, our schools are incredibly segregated and I had been sort of hoping that if you build it, they will come.
Maggie: This past year, the school welcomed ten white students into their sixth grade class, including Sofia Lavion.
Sofia Lavion: When you’re mixed with people, you’re mixed with people that can teach you things that you’d never know if everyone was the same.
Maggie: Yet these steps towards integration in schools seem to have become less common in recent years. Today, schools are not as mixed. Some researchers say that is because all of the rules that forced districts to desegregate and mix different groups and races together no longer exist. So now, there are all-white and all-minority schools based on things like where people live and how much money they make.
For example, this graph shows the percentage of black students in majority white schools. When Brown v. The Board of Education desegregated schools in 1954, there was a lot of progress and a huge increase in integration nationwide. Yet over time, as schools decreased their desegregation efforts, the rate of diversity in schools dropped as well.
In New York, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan, more than half of the states’ black students attend schools that are almost entirely made up of minority students. And the same is true for Latino students in New York, California and Texas. It is something that can be seen in nearly every single classroom. And it is a problem that is even affecting one of the schools that fought for desegregation sixty years ago – John Philip Sousa Middle School in Southeast D.C.
Administrator: I take them back to Brown.
Maggie: For administrators at the school, the problem goes beyond the classroom walls.
Valerie Wilson: Housing policy is education policy. And if we really want to desegregate our schools, we have to do more to desegregate our neighborhoods.
Maggie: The school will keep fighting for diversity, trying to once again lead – not only as an example for its students, but also for the success of students across the country.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.