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School Desegregation in America's 'Most Segregated' City

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Abstract:

Education is an important realm in which to trace African American protest, politics, and organizing. For African Americans, education has historically been a particularly salient arena in which to contest the state’s failed promises of equality. For example, it is within the arena of education that African Americans were promised equality in 1954 through Brown v. Board of Education, and within the field of education that this promise of equality has remained unfulfilled to this day. In the post-Brown era the impact of these retracted and unfulfilled promises has been particularly acute. This paper interrogates Black Chicagoans’ efforts, and changing orientation, towards the desegregation of Chicago Public Schools. Beginning in the late 1950s, African Americans in Chicago led multiple attempts to desegregate Chicago’s Public Schools: from school-based efforts of the late 1950s, to citywide boycotts and protests in the 1960s, and continued endeavors to desegregate schools via legal means at the state and federal level, culminating in a 1980 federal desegregation consent decree. Throughout this period, there were shifts in support for desegregation within African American communities. School integration as a strategy to achieve equity in education during the civil rights era gave way to demands for community control and funding equalization during the late 1960s; many African American groups began to find integration politically inexpedient in a city as highly segregated as Chicago and the idea that Black children had to sit next to white children to receive a quality education offensive. However, even as popular support for school desegregation waned in Black communities, groups like the Chicago Urban League maintained their commitment to the fight for school desegregation by organizing community-based and citywide desegregation coalitions.
In a short-term victory for proponents of desegregation, the U.S. Justice Department, in 1980, filed suit against the Chicago Board of Education and the City of Chicago for operating a dual school system that segregated students on the basis of race. To resolve the suit, the federal government and the Chicago Board of Education entered into a consent decree to put in place programs to explicitly desegregate as many schools as possible and provide supplementary programming for Black and Latino schools that remained segregated. While the consent decree put quotas in place to maintain racial integration at a number of selective enrollment and magnet schools, the overall system remained overwhelmingly segregated. In September 2009, the consent decree that forced the creation of the desegregation plan was overturned on the grounds that the schools no longer experienced “the remnants of past discrimination.” To envision Chicago Public Schools as void of “the remnants of past discrimination” would require a vivid imagination, as Chicago schools remain extremely racially segregated to this today. As such, this paper will also examine the political, social, and legal transformations that have obscured the history and memory of past efforts to desegregate Chicago schools and the ongoing discourse in education reform efforts over whether desegregation is viable, desirable, necessary, or relevant in improving urban schools.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509575_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Todd-Breland, Elizabeth. "School Desegregation in America's 'Most Segregated' City" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509575_index.html>

APA Citation:

Todd-Breland, E. "School Desegregation in America's 'Most Segregated' City" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509575_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: Education is an important realm in which to trace African American protest, politics, and organizing. For African Americans, education has historically been a particularly salient arena in which to contest the state’s failed promises of equality. For example, it is within the arena of education that African Americans were promised equality in 1954 through Brown v. Board of Education, and within the field of education that this promise of equality has remained unfulfilled to this day. In the post-Brown era the impact of these retracted and unfulfilled promises has been particularly acute. This paper interrogates Black Chicagoans’ efforts, and changing orientation, towards the desegregation of Chicago Public Schools. Beginning in the late 1950s, African Americans in Chicago led multiple attempts to desegregate Chicago’s Public Schools: from school-based efforts of the late 1950s, to citywide boycotts and protests in the 1960s, and continued endeavors to desegregate schools via legal means at the state and federal level, culminating in a 1980 federal desegregation consent decree. Throughout this period, there were shifts in support for desegregation within African American communities. School integration as a strategy to achieve equity in education during the civil rights era gave way to demands for community control and funding equalization during the late 1960s; many African American groups began to find integration politically inexpedient in a city as highly segregated as Chicago and the idea that Black children had to sit next to white children to receive a quality education offensive. However, even as popular support for school desegregation waned in Black communities, groups like the Chicago Urban League maintained their commitment to the fight for school desegregation by organizing community-based and citywide desegregation coalitions.
In a short-term victory for proponents of desegregation, the U.S. Justice Department, in 1980, filed suit against the Chicago Board of Education and the City of Chicago for operating a dual school system that segregated students on the basis of race. To resolve the suit, the federal government and the Chicago Board of Education entered into a consent decree to put in place programs to explicitly desegregate as many schools as possible and provide supplementary programming for Black and Latino schools that remained segregated. While the consent decree put quotas in place to maintain racial integration at a number of selective enrollment and magnet schools, the overall system remained overwhelmingly segregated. In September 2009, the consent decree that forced the creation of the desegregation plan was overturned on the grounds that the schools no longer experienced “the remnants of past discrimination.” To envision Chicago Public Schools as void of “the remnants of past discrimination” would require a vivid imagination, as Chicago schools remain extremely racially segregated to this today. As such, this paper will also examine the political, social, and legal transformations that have obscured the history and memory of past efforts to desegregate Chicago schools and the ongoing discourse in education reform efforts over whether desegregation is viable, desirable, necessary, or relevant in improving urban schools.


Similar Titles:
From Cooper to Parents: School Desegregation and Re-segregation in the United States

The Implosion of Milwaukee Public Schools: An Exploration of What Lies Ahead and the Implications for Politics in a Segregated City


 
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