Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Racial Segregation in US Public Schools Struck Down 60 Years



From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

Sixty years ago, the highest court in the United States changed American education. On May 17th, 1954, all nine judges of the Supreme Court ruled against racial separation in public schools. The court said such segregation in schools violates the United States Constitution.

At that time, many school systems had separate schools for white students and black students. The segregation was the result of a court ruling from 1896. That decision permitted so-called "separate but equal" schools. Some schools had only white children. Others had only black children.

Then, about sixty years later, the case Brown versus the Board of Education came before the Supreme Court. It involved five separate legal actions. But it centered on an African-American child in Kansas. Linda Brown lived just a short distance from a school. But she was forced to travel across town to a black school because the school near her permitted only white students.

Aderson Francois teaches law at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He says the case ended official racial separation in U.S. schools. But he also criticizes the ruling. He says it should have set a time by which segregation had to end. Some segregated schools did not obey the Supreme Court ruling until the 1960s. Even today, many schools are still effectively segregated. In 2012, the Civil Rights Project at the University of California studied racial populations in schools. The study showed that many schools are less racially mixed than 40 years ago. The study says social and economic issues are partly to blame.

Sponsored links