Segregation on the basis of race or ethnicity is one of the most enduring and pervasive inequities in US public education. Public school segregation has its roots in government-backed racist policies of the early 20th century. The landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruled that government-enforced school segregation was unconstitutional, but over the following decades, action at every level of government directly or indirectly ensured that schools stayed segregated. Because of this resistance to integration, the average instructional experience that Black and Hispanic children face in public schools today is vastly different from that of white children.
Decades of social science research has established that public school segregation reinforces differences in socioeconomic outcomes, from student test scores and high school graduation rates to income and wealth in adulthood and even life expectancy (Johnson 2019; reardon and Owens 2014; Welch 1987).
by Tomas Monarrez and Carina Chien for the Urban Institute