In Brown's Wake: Legacies of America's Educational Landmark (Law and Current Events Masters)

In Brown's Wake: Legacies of America's Educational Landmark (Law and Current Events Masters)

Martha Minow

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0195171527

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


What is the legacy of Brown vs. Board of Education? While it is well known for establishing racial equality as a central commitment of American schools, the case also inspired social movements for equality in education across all lines of difference, including language, gender, disability, immigration status, socio-economic status, religion, and sexual orientation. Yet more than a half century after Brown, American schools are more racially separated than before, and educators, parents and policy makers still debate whether the ruling requires all-inclusive classrooms in terms of race, gender, disability, and other differences.

In Brown's Wake examines the reverberations of Brown in American schools, including efforts to promote equal opportunities for all kinds of students. School choice, once a strategy for avoiding Brown, has emerged as a tool to promote integration and opportunities, even as charter schools and private school voucher programs enable new forms of self-separation by language, gender, disability, and ethnicity.

Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School, argues that the criteria placed on such initiatives carry serious consequences for both the character of American education and civil society itself. Although the original promise of Brown remains more symbolic than effective, Minow demonstrates the power of its vision in the struggles for equal education regardless of students' social identity, not only in the United States but also in many countries around the world. Further, she urges renewed commitment to the project of social integration even while acknowledging the complex obstacles that must be overcome. An elegant and concise overview of Brown and its aftermath, In Brown's Wake explores the broad-ranging and often surprising impact of one of the century's most important Supreme Court decisions.

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reprinted in id. at 222–23. 133. Briggs v. Elliott, 132 F. Supp. 776 (E.D.S.C. 1955). 134. See James v. Almond, 170 F. Supp. 331 (E.D. Va. 1959). The school closing law enacted in 1956 was rejected by the state supreme court in 1959; Virginia then repealed its compulsory school attendance laws, and Prince Edward County closed its schools to avoid desegregating them. See MATTHEW D. LASSITER & ANDREW B. LEWIS, THE MODERATES’ DILEMMA: MASSIVE RESISTANCE TO SCHOOL DESEGREGATION IN VIRGINIA (1998);

708–48 (2007) (Roberts, C.J.) (plurality opinion). For a sympathetic reading of the opinion, seeJ. Harvie Wilkinson III, Comment, The Seattle And Louisville School Cases: There Is No Other Way, 121 HARV. L. REV. 158 (2007). 218. 551 U.S. at 747–48 (2007) (Roberts, C.J.) (plurality opinion). 219. See BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION: A BRIEF HISTORY WITH DOCUMENTS, 142–51 (Waldo E. Martin, Jr., ed., 1998) (citing Brief of Appellant at X, Brown v. Board of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 (1955)); Martin Luther

18 AM. QUARTERLY 151 (summer 1966); Martha Minow, “Forming underneath Everything That Grows”: Toward a New History of Family Law, 1985 WIS. L. REV. 819. The notion of “true womanhood” did not extend to African-American women. See Vera L. Williams, Reform or Retrenchment? Single Sex Education and the Construction of Race and Gender, 2004 WIS. L. REV. 15, 38, 55–57. 129. A. Brown et al., The Equal Rights Amendment: A Constitutional Basis for Equal Rights for Women, 80 YALE L.J. 871, 876 (1971);

Clinton signed into law the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, which provided grants to help states develop academic standards. President George W. Bush pursued mandatory testing tied to state standards and secured the No Child Left Behind Act as a response to the perceived failures of public schooling. For a discussion of the No Child Left Behind Act, see infra text accompanying notes 19–23. 5. Even strong advocates of public schooling describe school choice as a “jolt to the system” that could

culturally sensitive setting, for immigrant and refugee children.”97 The schools “offer the best possible American academic program in a setting that respects and values community input.”98 Drawing students mainly from the large Somali immigrant population in the area,99 the schools serve Hallal food, appropriate for their largely Muslim student population; the schools also teach Arabic, both because of the students’ background and because the schools seek to prepare all students to live in a

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