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January 8, 2016

Addressing segregation in U.S. schools

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Sixty-one years after the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in schools in the United States, many students today attend schools with stark racial and economic disparities.

Unequal learning opportunities for poor and minority students compared with middle and upper-middle class white students in the U.S. represents a huge problem down the line, according to Pedro Noguera, director of the Center for Study of School Transformation at UCLA.

The aging population of the U.S. will be increasingly dependent on a younger and more diverse workforce in the future, Noguera said, but educational disparities make it harder for those future workers to contribute.

“If we really are interested in creating a society that’s more equal and less characterized by racial divisions, then we need to put more investment in education and leveling the playing field, “ Noguera said.

While considerable improvements in integration were made in many schools, particularly in the South, schools today in the north and western parts of the country are actually more segregated compared with 30 years ago, according to Noguera.


Key Terms

segregation – the act of separating a person or thing, often refers to race, including the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country or institution

Warm up questions
  1. What do you know about the term “separate but equal”?
  2. What famous U.S. Supreme Court case outlawed segregated schools in 1954?
  3. Why is a public school system important for a society?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What are some of the reasons why integrated school communities continue to exist?
  2. Why do you think strong literacy programs in Brockton, Massachusetts helped the school’s high academic rating?
  3. Do you agree with Noguera that it is in the interest of every American to be invested in public education? Why or why not?
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