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PICS: Statement of American Social Scientists of Research on School Desegregation Submitted to US Supreme Court

Authors: The Civil Rights Project
Date Published: October 10, 2006

A social science statement has been submitted to the United States Supreme Court with the signatures of 553 social scientists and researchers, urging the Court to permit the continuation of voluntary race-conscious student assignment plans in American public schools.
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This statement was submitted to the United States Supreme Court with the signatures of 553 social scientists and researchers, urging the Court to permit the continuation of voluntary race-conscious student assignment plans in American public schools.

The two cases before the US Supreme Court from Jefferson County (Louisville), Kentucky and Seattle, Washington, challenge the right of local school authorities to maintain integrated schools with desegregation guidelines that manage their local choice programs in a way that prevents resegregation. In both districts, two individual students who were denied their first choice school have sued, trying to end these choice programs designed by local educators. The districts have defended the programs as the only practical way to produce integrated school experiences which have important educational benefits for students and their communities

In the social science statement filed today, the fifth of its kind to be filed beginning with the social science statement signed by a few dozen social scientists about the harms of segregated schools prior to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case 52 years ago, scholars summarize research showing the educational and community benefits of integrated schools for both white and minority students, documenting the persisting inequalities of segregated minority schools, and examining evidence that schools will resegregate in the absence of race-conscious policies. The 553 scholars who have signed on to the statement reflect an unprecedented commitment by scholars representing 201 institutions in 42 states and the District of Columbia, and they hail from a wide variety of social science disciplines.

The Civil Rights Project has commissioned research that shows that schools have been resegregating since the 1990s and ending voluntary desegregation will serve to accelerate this resegregation, with serious consequences including the undermining of successful magnet and choice plans, and the creation of more schools segregated by race, income, and language.

“This extraordinary outpouring of intellectual support for the goal of integrated education reflects a deepening understanding of the need for positive policies to deal with the racial transformation of American society,” states Gary Orfield, director of The Civil Rights Project and professor of education.

Contributions to the statement have been coordinated by scholars working with The Civil Rights Project with the support of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Counsel of Record is Liliana Garces, an attorney and doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

These cases were argued before the Court in early December 2006.


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