What is Desegregation?

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According to the Cambridge Dictionary, desegregation is the act of ending segregation between races or sexes in an organization. Integration, on the other hand, refers to the process of becoming part of a group of people. It is extremely simplistic to think that the former automatically results in the latter, as these two terms are not simply synonyms but possess a much broader range of meaning.

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These terms are central when it comes to public education in the United States and their effect on students’ academic performance, being challenged ever since the ruling of one of the most famous court cases in the country, the Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in which justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional, and therefore, black children should not be banned from sharing public facilities, such as schools and buses, with white children, even though separate but equal facilities were considered equal under the law. Although playing a significant role in the civil rights movement, it is possible to argue that desegregation has not yet achieved is purpose, as achievement gap, income inequality and racial discrimination has not only continued to exist in our society but has increased significantly. Therefore, it is feasible to affirm that desegregation has not been successful, making integration a distant dream that will only become a concrete reality when the divisible color line that separates black children from white cease to exist.

The Brown v. Board of Education Case, like mentioned above, represented a decisive and extremely important milestone in the history of racial discrimination in the United States. However, existing policy shortcomings still prevent its promise of achieving full integration in public schools.

According to the Washington Post article, the gap achievement between white and black students is a constant in the United States because despite the black average achievement has increased, so has the white average achievement, preventing the gap between both to be eliminated or, at least, decreased. As stated by research from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), black fourth-graders have better average math scores than average white math scores, however, this accounts for only about 25% of white students, according to the same article. Consequently, the hope for equal qualification for the labor market remains a faraway goal.

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