Sixty years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional, segregated schools are still part of the American educational landscape. Since the peak of integration in the 1980s, schools slowly have been slipping back toward racial and economic segregation.
A recent report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA found that there has been an almost 30 percent drop in white students and close to a quintupling of Latino students. Researchers also found that “black and Latino students tend to be in schools with a substantial majority of poor children, but white and Asian students are typically in middle-class schools.”
To mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark decision, the PBS NewsHour visited two Washington, D.C., high schools — one a vibrant picture of the kind of diversity Brown made possible, the other a striking example of how students are still isolated by race and poverty.
Woodrow Wilson High School is one of the only schools in the city to reflect the city’s diversity; just under half of the students are black, a quarter are white, 17 percent are Hispanic and 8 percent are Asian. Calvin Coolidge High School is four miles away and while it was integrated in the 1960s, by the late 1980s, the students were uniformly African-American.