Segregating California's Future: Inequality and Its Alternative, 60 Years after Brown v. Board of Education

  • Description

California has had serious issues of separation and discrimination in its schools since it became a state. It was little affected by the Brown decision, which was directed primarily at the 17 states that had laws mandating the segregation of African Americans. Although the California Supreme Court recognized a broad desegregation right in the state constitution, and the legislature briefly mandated that school boards take action to enforce this right, both were reversed by voter-approved propositions. The 1979 Proposition One led to the termination of the city's desegregation plan -- the first major city in the U.S. to end its plan. U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s led eventually to the termination of the federal desegregation orders in San Francisco and San Jose. Major court decisions in California mandating desegregation that occurred in the 1970s were overturned by the 1990s, thus California presently has no school integration policy. Segregation has grown substantially in the past two decades, especially for Latinos. White students' contact with nonwhite and poor students has increased significantly because of the dramatic change in overall population. Black and Latino students are strongly concentrated in schools that have far lower quality, according to state Academic Performance Index (API) ratings. Conversely, a far larger share of whites and Asians attend the most highly related schools and thus are the most prepared for college. A half-century of desegregation research shows the major costs of segregation and the variety of benefits of schools that are attended by all races.