May 17, 2010
6:01 PM

The Promise of Brown v. Board of Education Remains Unfulfilled

WASHINGTON - May 17 - On the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the statement below:

As the nation marks 56 years since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional, the achievement gap in America remains dire.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is firmly committed toward eliminating the achievement gap between white students and students of color.  We believe that certain critical steps are necessary to do so, such as mandating diversity standards and retaining integration requirements in public school programs - particularly in Title I and charter schools.  As President Obama has observed, "segregated schools were and are inferior schools...50 years after Brown v. Board of Education.  And the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students." 

The Supreme Court has acknowledged that promoting diversity and avoiding racial isolation are compelling interests that schools can and should pursue, and the Lawyers' Committee will continue to work on the federal and state level to either incorporate or maintain such diversity standards.  To that end, we will also continue to press the Department of Education to release guidance in accordance with the recent Supreme Court desegregation cases - Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007) decided together with Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education.  Local school districts need the federal government to exercise leadership in this area so there is no more delay in ensuring that all of our students are obtaining a quality education.  In addition to working with the Department of Education, the Lawyers' Committee is also working with members of Congress to urge prioritization of diversity standards, parental involvement and better Title VI enforcement through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The education of all children is indeed a civil right and must be treated as such.   Congress and the Administration must take affirmative steps to address racial inequities in the American public education system. 

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.


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