American Apartheid

1954 was a memorable year for many Americans. The Cold War, theBaby Boom, the first mass vaccination of polio, the birth ofMichael Bolton and the Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v. Boardof Education all occurred 50 years ago.

Today in 2004, the Cold War and the Baby Boom have met theirend, polio is virtually eradicated in our country and MichaelBolton’s career is thankfully over. All these events seem to have abeginning and an end. Unfortunately, the problem that forced Brownv. Board of Education has not been completely fixed.

Laws might have desegregated schools, but can we honestly saythat our country’s educational system is fair and integrated? As wemove into the second week of Black History month, is it notapparent that schools are being re-segregated all over thecountry?

According to a study done by The Civil Rights Project of HarvardUniversity, on average white students attend schools where 80percent of the student body is Caucasian. Conversely, there hasbeen a huge overcrowding problem within urban schools where themajority of the student bodies are non-white.

These schools experience poverty, limited resources and healthproblems. Lack of funding hurts education and the lifestyles ofeach student.

While suburban school districts receiving the most money areoverwhelming white, during the 1990s, the proportion of blackstudents in majority white schools has decreased by 13 percentagepoints to a level lower than any year since 1968.

No single factor alone accounts for the entirety of the problem.The white flight of the ’50s, the loss of manufacturing jobs withinmajor cities and systematic racial discrimination in real estate,banking and employment has all contributed while localized fundingensures that poor neighborhoods have poorly funded schools.

We do not have a popular, national program for the creation of asuccessfully integrated school system. No Child Left Behind onlycontinues the failure of the government to adequately address theproblem. And without a charismatic visionary capable of pushing theas-yet unwritten solution (and capable of securing funding for itfrom rapidly dwindling allocations for social programs) there willbe little progress.