Little Rock black students are escorted by the National Guard in 1957 (AP)Districts in Arkansas and Arizona made news this week as they struggled to comply with decades-old court orders mandating they desegregate their schools.
A federal judge has ruled that three school districts around Little Rock, Ark., have delayed their desegregation efforts in order to continue to receive an extra $70 million annually from the state. Thousands of kids are bused to schools outside of their neighborhoods in order to maintain racial balance in two of the districts, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the school district for Tucson, Ariz., to hire an expert to help it more speedily desegregate its schools. The Ninth Circuit ruling comes after a decades-long court battle over the district's racial disparities in achievement and discipline.
But cases such as these are fast becoming the exception in federal desegregation law. Many judges have backed off desegregation court orders in recent years, arguing that the country's persistent racial disparities in its public education system cannot be solved by judges, nor blamed any longer on the legacies of the Jim Crow era. Though public schools are even more segregated by race and poverty than they were 40 years ago, the new movement for racial equality has not primarily focused on legal remedies. Activists fighting segregation are mindful of the damage wrought by court orders, mandatory busing, and other tactics on racial comity--and of how such measures have historically angered middle-class white parents, and driven them to the suburbs.Read More »from Second wave of school desegregation efforts focus on parent choice, poverty