How do you think the civil rights movement has affected public schools SINCE 1954?Consider when anwsering what response from the public that desegregation caused, the cost effects, as well as...

How do you think the civil rights movement has affected public schools SINCE 1954?

Consider when anwsering what response from the public that desegregation caused, the cost effects, as well as social implications that desegregation held in the years after


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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When desegregation was forced upon the South in the early 1960s, there was great disharmony, resentment, and hatred unleashed.  Because the black schools were so quickly closed and the other public schools forced to accommodate everyone, many of the high schools in small towns had to have two shifts at which students attended.  In numerous schools there were walk-outs of classes and other disruptions to learning.  As one may not have expected, in many cases, the African-American students were the unhappier as they had to leave their own schools and neighborhoods and with the shifts, they were separated from their friends.  Students from one school were held back as those from another tried to catch up.

In large cities such as Boston, there was much discord over the forced busing; again many of the disgruntled were black as they were compelled to ride buses for an hour and a half to two hours each way as they were transported all the way across the city.  The education experiment of the Great Society did not work in North or South because it was too hurried, too unorganized, too insensible.  It was not until years later that schools began to began to have a more harmonious student body.

Once test scores began to drop at some schools and the faculty to become less than stellar, parents began to move their children to another public school such as a magnet school, or they pulled their children completely out of public education and places them in private schools.  In truth, only the poorest students remain in some schools; the others go to private or more selective schools, or they are home-schooled.  The goals of the Great Society have really not worked out very well.  The urban schools are yet plagued with problems, and the more exclusive suburbs have schools that are--more exclusive.

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brown vs. Board of Education, which you cite in your question, was met with great opposition in the South. This writer began the first grade in 1954, the year of the decision, but there were no black students in my school until my senior year, 1966. I never sat in class with a black student until college. There were plenty of black students who could have attended the same school; my state went to great lengths to circumvent the Brown decision, as did many other southern states.

As far as the social implications, Brown vs. Board did more than any other enactment, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to move us closer to racial equality. Please note: I said "move us closer." We are not there yet. However, by putting black and white children in class together, they have learned to play, share, work, and live together as equals. There is much more interaction at all levels between Blacks and Whites today than before Brown, simply because we have learned to live together. At the risk of sounding cynical, I think our ability to work and function together as equals is the very thing that those who opposed Brown feared.

The effect on education has been more one of practicality than anything else. There was expense in creating equitable proportions both of students and teachers, but this is of little consequence when one considers the great social strides that have been made. I dare to say that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 probably would not have passed were it not for the social progress made as a result of the Brown decision. Bottom line, the Brown case probably has done more for the cause of racial equality in the United States than any other act of the courts or of Congress.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think everyone would like to say that after this landmark Supreme Court decision, all segregation in public education was eradicated; however, it's clear that did not happen. It is true that the largest cities in America have larger populations of African-American (and other minority) students than other places; however, that is not surprising since the populations in these urban school districts is comprised primarily of African-Americans and other minorities. The education system is not to blame for that. Unfortunately, though, there are consequences which often cause these inner-city schools to be far below the norm in nearly every way. So, while students of every race can attend these schools, they don't. The most change has happened in the suburban and rural school districts, which have been and still are predominantly white. African-American students are free to attend as long as they live in the district. I guess that means that nothing much has changed in many schools because of Brown v. Board of Education. What has had more impact is the concentration, over the past fifty years, of poor minorities in urban areas.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is really a huge question.

The main impact on public education coming from the Brown decision has been that schools have been forced to integrate.  In some places, this has meant added costs because of busing programs to reduce the effects of historic segregation.  These programs have also caused a great deal of social unrest in some places and at some times (the Boston busing program was especially contentious).

At the same time, the coming of desegregation has led to a great deal more racial integration in some schools.  Of course, many schools remain terribly segregated because of residential patterns in which people of one race cluster in a given area.  However, there are more people of different races going to school with one another.  This has surely had the impact of creating a greater amount of racial tolerance in the country.  This impact might be seen in polls showing that young people today are much less conscious of race than older people like myself.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We are still struggling with figuring out how to respond to all the ramifications of Brown vs Board of Education. Busing was proposed as a means of creating schools with racial diversity, but it was expensive and controversial and resulted in white flight as families moved to the suburbs so the kids wouldn't be attending schools in usually urban districts that were being forced to desegregate. Magnet school programs were developed to attract students to schools that needed new populations to meet racial quotas, but again there were problems with transportation and building of educational community relationships. I agree with the previous post that the greatest long term effect has been the change in attitude that has developed as a result of increased opportunities for interaction and awareness - but we still have a long way to go.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Despite it being a historically important decision, and it being the beginning of the end of legal segregation, I don't know that it has had a gigantic practical effect. Economics has kept much of the South (and other parts of the country for that matter) essentially still segregated, it's just not legal to make it school or state policy. Little Rock's Central High School today is overwhelmingly African-American, as are many of the urban schools in New York, Atlanta and Washington DC. I think the real long term effect of the decision and subsequent movement was that the following generations born after the decision have grown up in a country without legal segregation, and today laugh at the idea of it as absurd. They are typically more racially tolerant, I find, and are much more likely to date interracially.
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with other editors in drawing attention to the immense importance of the decision of the Supreme Court in this case. However, it is interesting that #7 draws attention to the way in which economic realities have resulted in a kind of re-segregation resulting in inequality becoming a key feature of the American educational system. I wonder whether the difference is that this new inequality is not strictly based around skin colour but around the wealth of parents and the increased choice that this gives them.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Although schools were desegregated, they have now become segregated once again. Schools are still funded largely through property taxes. This means that wealthy people will send their children to well-equipped schools, while poor people will send theirs to crumbling and poorly equipped ones. There are still schools today that have hardly any white students, and bussing is now used to prevent white kids from having to go to school with minorities.