November 18, 2009
Creation of New School Districts in U.S. May Cause a New Form of Segregation
Although the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 overturned segregation within many U.S. metropolitan communities and districts, school districts were slow to change and have remained segregated between districts. A recent study in Law & Social Inquiry examines how the political process of creating new school districts in Southern communities changed the nature of segregation and seriously affected municipalities and districts now divided along racial lines.
A case in point is Jefferson County, Alabama, where boundaries served to maintain, to differentiate, and even to enhance the white, privileged nature of the population. Further, the creation of small, suburban districts made some underprivileged school districts more vulnerable to racial segregation. Specifically, boundaries drawn in the last thirty years have locked Birmingham’s school district (and Bessemer’s, a smaller city) into a declining, poor, and majority population.
Author Erica Frankenberg points out, “This pattern of fragmenting districts is happening elsewhere, and it is important to fully understand the consequences. This issue is currently pending in some large districts across the country and could accelerate the current trend of school resegregation if metro areas subdivide into increasingly smaller units.”
In creating separate districts, local political control is a contemporary way to maintain racial segregation in these communities, with few current or future prospects for overcoming boundaries that divide students and opportunities along racial lines.
This study is published in the Fall 2009 issue of Law & Social Inquiry. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact email@example.com.
To view the abstract for this article, please click here.