By Emmanuel Gutierrez |Staff Writer|
A high school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama once considered a “model of racial integration,” has now been segregated following a ruling by their school districts.
Brown v. Board of Education ruled state sponsored segregation was a violation against the “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment.
However, school districts have overturned the ruling due to complications arising from newly constructed schools, changing school zones, and lack of funding to bus students, according to nola.com.
The integration of students prioritized a heterogeneous mix of racial and cultural backgrounds, but simultaneously, students of varying socioeconomic classes began sharing classrooms as well.
According to an article on ProPublica the achievement gap between minority and white students narrowed during this period of integration but, “widened as they became less so.”
“Once the District Courts lifted the ‘desegregation orders,’ school officials and well-to-do parents pushed for new schools to be built in all-white neighborhoods,” said Dr. Elsa Valdez, a CSUSB sociology professor.
“White flight” redistributed the racial and ethnic population, making integration in schools imbalanced, according to an article on tuscaloosanews.com.
“Apartheid schools” or educational institutions composed of populations with white students making less than one percent in attendance have come into existence once again, according to ProPublica.
Minority dominated schools, typically in socioeconomically disadvantaged districts, tend to have fewer available resources for teachers and students in the classroom, which decreases the likelihood of academic success, according to a study performed by the American Psychological Association.
“Lack of funding has always plagued the educational institutions I have attended. Paper, pens, ink to print—resources we take for granted everyday were scarce. Teachers paid for supplies and were never reimbursed,” said student Melissa Polo, health science major.
“Students from lower income families, in general, are less successful academically and there’s probably a million and one reasons for that,” said student Robert Figueroa.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, journalist for ProPublica, highly suspects a deal had been made behind the scenes and said, “The decision to break up the schools was planned long in advance before the judge issued the desegregation order.”
“Everyone is prejudiced in many ways. It is those who are honest about it and make an attempt to work on it that eventually see through the color-blind haze,” said Dr. Dwight Sweeney, a CSUSB professor of race and racism.
When voting on the Brown v. Board of Education case, Chief Justice Earl Warren said that separating black children from others of similar age and qualification based only on their race creates a feeling of inferiority to their status within the community and affects their hearts and minds in a way that’s unlikely to be undone.
“In a two-tiered society, tensions between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s’ can result in internal conflicts which are very unproductive. Alabama is not the only state with segregation issues,” said Valdez.
“National studies show that this phenomenon is also occurring in the southwestern states such as California,” added Valdez.
As this re-segregation unfolds in Tuscaloosa, the rest of the nation watches and waits for the outcome.
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