Dismantling Desegr -Op/58

Gary Orfield, Author, Harvard Project on School Desegregation, Author, Susan E. Eaton, With
Gary Orfield, Author, Harvard Project on School Desegregation, Author, Susan E. Eaton, With New Press $30 (424p) ISBN 978-1-56584-305-9
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 424 pages - 978-1-56584-401-8
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The Harvard-based authors observe that recent judicial decisions on desegregation have given up on the reformist aspects of the landmark Brown desegregation case: now integration is seen not as a goal but as merely ""a temporary punishment for historic violations."" This, they add, mainly affects the South, where city-suburban desegregation efforts have progressed; in Northern cities, by contrast, a 1974 decision barred such regional desegregation, effectively blocking Brown. While a significant number of blacks are now seeking parity more than integration--an updated form of ""separate but equal""--the authors argue that segregation today means profound educational inequality linked to poverty and lack of political power. A good chunk of the book, aimed mainly at experts, consists of detailed case studies of desegregation efforts in places such as Norfolk, Va. (where undoing integration did not improve education), Charlotte, N.C. (where forces for and against integration still seem balanced), and Kansas City (where new spending has brought modest gains). The authors conclude with some possibly good, if not yet politically feasible, advice: desegregation plans, to be effective, must bridge cities and suburbs, and, because school segregation is based on residential segregation, a long-term plan to integrate communities could work better than busing students. (Aug.)
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