Race, Class, and School Segregation 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education

Monday, July 14, 2014

From 'Omarina's Story.' Frontline continues its examination of a groundbreaking effort to stem the dropout crisis in America’s high-poverty schools. From "Omarina's Story." Frontline continues its examination of a groundbreaking effort to stem the dropout crisis in America’s high-poverty schools. (Courtesy of Frontline/Frontline)

Frontline co-producers Mary Robertson and Kyle Spencer discuss education, race and class 60 years after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in the education system was unconstitutional. Their two-part Frontline series includes "Separate but Equal" and "Omarina's Story" looks at the reemergence of school segregation across the country and airs July 15 on PBS.


Mary Robertson and Kyle Spencer

Comments [10]

Ryan from Jersey City

We are continuing to gloss over housing and its impact on our public school system. Housing segregation patterns, redlining and white flight have hurt the public school system (the loss of a tax base). While we can talk about Black and Brown kids being disruptive in class, that is only one part of an equation of complex issues (poverty), and a lazy way out from offering a clear analysis and remedy about the public school system.

Because of a history of defacto and de jure housing segregation we are paying a HUGE price to this present day for our myopic view. We have isolate communities both by income (class) and race, therefore our schools are continuing to fail or struggle.

Jonathan Kozol has been working in this field forever! The topic only becomes relevant when middle class, and mostly white folks, encounter a decrepit public school system through gentrification. Black and Brown folks have been trying to address this for decades. We are too eager to talk private schools, and charter schools as a fix at the expense of public schools.

If most American’s wages are stagnant, how are they going to pay for private schools? Charter schools are public schools with a waiting list because they are in high demand. Not everyone can go to both. Where do we place the rest of the students so they have a fighting chance to get a solid educational foundation?

I believe no one purposely wants to segregate our public school systems, BUT we are being very inept in our analysis. Housing segregation has always been a key factor. You surely can’t force people to live in a specific area these days as a means to improve the school system. But, you can surely address our past and current housing policy as one part of the equation.

Jul. 14 2014 11:39 PM

As someone who looked into making a career transition to teaching, somewhat later in life, I must come to Bernie's defense after the last call of the segment. It is often the reality that the typical public school in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods deals with many more kids with problems at home, which spill over to school.

Statements like the last caller made, giving his singular opinion that Bernie had 'other issues,' will get us nowhere in this ongoing challenge.

Of course, it is an extremely complex issue, and therefore needs to be addressed on a very dynamic level.

Jul. 14 2014 12:50 PM
Anonymous from East NY

It is no picnic to go to an all white school either - uhm hello Bensonhurst! The racism there was "magnifique"!

Jul. 14 2014 12:42 PM
fuva from harlemworld

I hope Leonard's question about race vs. economic inequality was a softball. Because they are absolutely inextricably linked. And it distresses me how many so-called erudite people continue to make the false distinction.

Jul. 14 2014 12:40 PM
john from office

So I guess Bernie was just a crazed racist, not someone with experiences that were all negative.

Bernie was the most truthful of the callers.

Jul. 14 2014 12:39 PM
Greer from Listening in Ecuador, from NJ

I am curious what the filmmakers views our about teacher evaluation systems that use student progress/test scores? One of the guests made the remark that a student faced so many challenges outside of school that made academic learning difficult. In light of this evidence how realistic do they think it is to expect schools to mediate these issues for all students?

Jul. 14 2014 12:39 PM
John from Queens

You need an entire follow-up session dedicated to segregation in New York City schools.
The New York Times reported that NYC schools are the third most segregated in the nation.
By the way, the story of harassed white and Asian students could be dated. I've worked in several NYC schools with large black and Latino majorities and have not heard of the racial harassment of these students. The caller's example cannot be projected to explain the whole system.

Jul. 14 2014 12:29 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Bernie's call is very important and exemplifies the need for fuller discourse here. "Behavioral issues" can't be invoked to justify over-policing and criminalization of kids, but they must be addressed, by understanding and addressing the ripple effects of socioeconomic alienation.

Jul. 14 2014 12:29 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Current incoherent SCOTUS segregation policy is, in part, a result of construction creep via which Brown's use of the term "racial discrimination" has been re/misinterpreted. Otherwise it reflects the prevailing ignorance of American history and its effects, that will probably reflect in this well-meaning but likely under-effective program.

Jul. 14 2014 12:20 PM

This is why Nj is so expensive to live in
Why do we think Nj has 600 school districts? RACE

Jul. 14 2014 12:12 PM

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