Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise Image Strip of Linda Brown walking to school, girl taking test at desk, Nettie Hunt and daughter with newspaper headline on steps of Supreme Court, present day children raising hands, children at computers
Long Road to Brown
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Ability Tracking and Segregation

Los Angeles-based writer and lecturer Luis Rodriguez can remember being ashamed of being Mexican, beginning with his first day of school. He was sent home early every day of his first week. And when Rodriquez spoke in Spanish, his teacher hit him. Soon he was assigned to special education classes.

Luis Rodriguez teaches class That was in the 1960s, but Rodriquez still thinks of his life in the “the dumb class” where “we fell further and further behind our white classmates.”

Today, Rodriquez leads diversity workshops at North Hollywood High School, where 85 percent of the student body is Latino. But only a handful of Latino students are on the “gifted” education track.

North Hollywood High is among the thousands of schools across the nation that separate students based on perceived ability.Once a student is categorized gifted, average or slow — a practice known as “tracking” — that decision can narrow a student's course offerings and future options. A practice that, like the establishment of “magnet schools” was designed to promote racial/ethnic diversity is in reality re-segregating the nation's schools.

According to North Hollywood High School teacher Randy Vail, anyone who thinks segregation in our schools ended fifty years ago with Brown v. Board of Education is fooling themselves. “You have Latino kids who go through their entire school day without seeing a white kid, and you have white kids who have almost no interaction with their Latino classmates, and it is all done within the same school.”

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