The 21st century Plessy v. Ferguson

The Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954 was groundbreaking. The unanimous decision established that “separate but equal” in Plessy vs. Ferguson was unconstitutional. While integration was a wildly controversial act, our nation now enjoys perfectly integrated schools.

Or does it?

Take a look at our nation. Schools may actually be more segregated today. In Connecticut, research shows a disturbing trend. An interactive map published by the CT Mirror shows how the racial makeup of certain areas has changed over a 50-year time span. Cities like Hartford and New Haven have a growing minority population, and a steadily decreasing white one.

Screenshot 2017-03-11 11.07.03For example, the minority population in Bridgeport for 1982-1983 was 77.4 percent. In 2012-2013, however, that jumped to 91.2 percent.

Poor, minority regions are built in part by white flight. More affluent, white families move to suburbs, taking their money and resources with them.

So what does school segregation in Connecticut look like, and what does it mean for students? Districts made up of families with higher incomes have more resources to give to their schools. This could be extra labs, sports teams, or the access to more qualified teachers. Schools without resources can lack opportunities for the students that have no choice but to attend them. In addition, many schools do not receive their full state funding to help improve school conditions. Students living in poor conditions will continue to remain underprivileged under current practices.

In order to achieve equality, something must change. But can it?

According to some reports, there are ways that the Connecticut government could alleviate this. According to The New Yorker, if Connecticut splits its districts into its former eight counties, poorer districts would be integrated into richer ones. Taxes would be allocated to multiple schools that otherwise would not have the resources. Ideally, this new school system would be equal for students across the board, but would white families sign on? Would families of color? The future of Connecticut schools remains uncertain. Who knows if we will ever reach full equality?

By Allison Smith

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