Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Downward Slope

While scrolling through many sites looking for information for my junior theme, one quote spoken by a parent of an African American high school girl stuck out to me:

The language in this quote is extremely significant. Walter Fields, the parent who said this quote, says that "now we arrive" at a place where segregation exists in the education system in America today. Americans are taught numerous times in their history curriculums about how schools used to be segregated prior to Brown v. Board of Education, which determined it unconstitutional to have separate public schools for blacks and whites. However, if schools cannot be segregated by law in America today, then how come we are "arriving at the point" where they are? Field's language suggests that American schools became less segregated, but are now once again returning to their segregated state.

I found this statement in this quote to be alarmingly true. The graph below shows the percentage of black students in predominantly white school. In 1954, right before Brown v. the Board of Education, there were no black students in majority white schools; however, after this was ruled unconstitutional,  the percentage of African American students started to rise until it hit its peak of 43.5% in 1988. This statistic isn't even that impressive, for over half of black students still attended schools that had a minority majority.  

Unfortunately, this percentage was short-lived and in 2011, we were at one of our lowest percentages yet with having only 23.2% of all African American students attend schools with a white majority. Clearly, school segregation still exists today and this graph shows an alarming trend in the future. 

While this graph represents schools nationwide, schools in Illinois are known for their segregated schools. In Illinois, along with New York, Maryland and Michigan, more than half of African American students attend schools where 90% or more are minority. Illinois continues to have one of the most extreme school segregation in a nation that already faces disturbing amounts of segregation.

In what ways have you seen school segregation in Illinois? How does this de facto segregation affect the education each individual is receiving?

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