The End of Desegregation? Summary

The End of Desegregation?

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In The End of Desegregation?, editors Stephen J. Caldas, a professor of educational foundations at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette, and Carl L. Bankston III, a professor of sociology at Tulane University, have presented a collection of scholarly articles on the troubled quest to desegregate public schools in the United States. The editors include an article of their own as well as a helpful introduction to the entire volume. Together with seven additional scholarly articles on the topic, this book gives a diverse and well-balanced account of where the United States has been, where the U. S. is now, and what the future may hold regarding the issue of desegregation.

Some of the authors have been big supporters of aggressive desegregation efforts, including mandatory busing. Others have been critics. Some believe desegregation attempts have been successful enough to no longer be needed. Others argue that mandatory desegregation is being abandoned despite a continued need for it, and also that academic tracking has become a means of reinforcing the racial segregation of school children. Despite the question mark at the end of the title, all the authors seem to agree that the grand effort to desegregate schools racially through court- mandated policies has, for better or worse, come to an end. In light of this reality, the issue of desegregation along economic (or class) lines is discussed in the book’s penultimate article. The final article looks at the problem of educating rather than isolating the children of recent immigrants.

Taken together, the articles in this book give excellent insight into the history, central controversies, and varying perspectives regarding school desegregation efforts. Though they employ a variety of methodologies and conceptual frameworks, the authors of the articles are basically on the same page. As a result, one can learn a lot from reading this book. It is not, however, an easy read. There is a fair amount of social science jargon and the issues are complex. But for those readers who want to understand desegregation on a profound level, the effort will be well worthwhile.