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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Schools in America today face challenges similar to those over sixty years ago. Thought to be remedied by the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), racial and ethnic segregation, inequitable public funding and resources, and disparate educational outcomes by race and ethnicity continue to plague schools throughout the country. This chapter traces the major legal developments from Brown to the present that implicated race-conscious policies in K–12 schools intended to address racial and ethnic segregation. By reviewing the past, present, and future directions of race consciousness in school assignment, choice, and access policies, the authors argue that colorblind or “race-neutral” legal approaches to entrenched racism and social stratification have caused American schools to continue to miss the mark set by Brown. Due to shifts in the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court and a decreasing socially explicit acknowledgment of the salience of racism and racial discrimination, racial harms have become increasingly difficult to litigate. The Court’s decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) further restricted the use of race in school segregation remedies, and set the present legal context of addressing racial discrimination and segregation in race-neutral terms that perpetuate rather than ameliorate segregation. The future of race consciousness in school assignment policies depends upon a thorough examination of historical precedent and a strategic sense of the current legal and political landscape of racial segregation. We must look backward in order to anticipate the pressing yet familiar challenges of racial segregation in schools.

Keywords: School segregation, School desegregation, Racial and ethnic equity, Colorblind, Race conscious, School assignment, School choice, Educational access

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