In the 1950s, the U.S Supreme Court heard five cases that would become vital in the movement for equal opportunities and desegregation in the classroom.
These cases were Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; Briggs v. Elliot; Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (VA.), Boiling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel. Although every case was distinctive, the fundamental issue was state-sponsored segregation in public schools across America.
In 1952, the five cases came before the Supreme Court under one name, Brown v. Board of Education. Establishing separate school systems for black and white people was intrinsically unequal, and therefore violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Moreover, developing segregated school systems with an established predisposition to make black school children feel inferior to white children could never be legal. In 1954, the Court declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court did not immediately mandate the implementation of its ruling, and public schools began to submit plans to proceed with the segregation.
The documentary, “Separate and Unequal,” produced by Mary Robertson, explains how the predisposition to establish segregated schools is still an issue. The film explores the stiff opposition of creating segregated schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the documentary, a group of white parents try to establish their own city in order to establish its own school district and leave behind a population of mostly black students. The portrayal of the Baton Rouge battle shows just one case of the increasing racial divide in American schools.
In 2016, a report by the Government Accountability Office said that about one-third of schools were composed primarily of either a majority of just white students or they were comprised of low-income black and-or Hispanic students. The racial separation of students explains how a better use of information could help agencies identify disparities and address racial discrimination.
For example, Connecticut school segregation has long been established through funding. The Coalition for Justice in Education Funding argues that it costs far more money to provide an adequate education to students from low-income families than from wealthier ones. And a study on the cost of adequacy for Connecticut describes the state’s current funding setup is falling far short of providing enough so these high-need students get what they require.
It has been 20 years since the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered the state to eliminate the injustices and disproportions of unequal education of black and Hispanic students in the capital city of Hartford. However, the latest data shows that the majority of Hartford’s children still attend segregated schools. Today, 9,743 students, or 45.5 percent, attend an integrated school in Hartford.
By Ellen Callahan