Wells, Amy Stuart, Holme, Jennifer, Revilla, Anita Tijerina, & Atanda, Awo Korantemaa
Both Sides Now: The Story of School Desegregation's Graduates
Firsthand account by Blacks, Whites, and Latinos who graduated in 1980 of how desegregation affected them during high school and later in life.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
University of California Press
- Rather than their desegregation school experiences forging avenues for continued desegregation, even integration, in their adult lives, many of the white cases studied capture the real tension that desegregated schooling experiences did not change: that the struggle for racial equality was intended to destroy the manifestations of overt racism but never designed to disrupt economic progress or overthrow deeply held cultural norms of white privilege.
- More than 50% of the White graduates acknowledged that they are not giving their children the same desegregation opportunities they experienced.
- While Black graduates of 1980 live in more desegregation housing than their White counterparts, report jobs in diverse settings, and are more adamant about finding diverse schooling for their children, they also confine their social and religious activities primarily to other African Americans. The same applies to Latino graduates.
- Longterm outcomes show that desegregation increased job opportunities and social networks for minorities but that race remains a central variable in ethnic relationships.
- Virtually all graduates said that attending desegregated schools dispelled their fears of people of other races, taught them to embrace racial and cultural differences, and showed them the humanness of individuals across racial lines.
- In many cases, the students were logistically thwarted from desegregation outside of schools by growing up in segregated neighborhoods.
- Most graduates noted that there was segregation within the desegregated schools because many teachers were biased against students of color in assessing ability and intelligence.
- Regardless of the cross-racial bonds formed within these schools, the adults who graduated from them went on to lead lives that were, for the most part, far more segregated than their high schools.
- In 2000-02, the average White student attended a school that was almost 80% White, while the average Black and Latino students attended schools that were 30% and 28% White, respectively. Thus, most students of color still attend schools that are substantially segregated.
- The vast majority of parents (back or white) support the concept of racially mixed public schools but they strongly prefer voluntary or choice-based desegregation policies to mandatory reassignments.
- Authors encourage policymakers to broaden the measures of school quality and accountability to include indicators other than standardized test scores; amend current public school policies to make them more supportive of parents and educators who want to start and maintain racially diverse schools; increase federal and state support for school districts that are trying to maintain desegregated schools; pursue non-education goals that will facilitate the creation of more diverse public schools.
Academic Achievement, African American, Desegregation, Latinos, Long Term Outcomes
Case Studies, Interviews
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- 540 interviews from six cases of school desegregation across the country where graduates completed their education in 1980.
- 242 graduates interviewed: 136 White, 79 African American, 21 Latino, 2 Asian, and 4 Mixed Race
- Schools selected had significant desegregation plans that varied in terms of size, region, racial and ethnic makeup of the general population and the students, social class of residents, and the policies by which the districts were desegregated.
- Schools chosen were: Austin, TX (Austin High School); Charlotte, NC (West Charlotte High School); Englewood, NJ (Dwisht Morrow High School); Pasadena, CA (John Muir High School); Shake Heights, OH (Shaker Heights High School); Topeka, KS (Topeka High School).
- Testimony of Whites, Blacks, and Latinos.
- Specifically questioned regarding how the children interacted while attending desegregated schools and how they have lived since.
- DV: Experiences in school and after graduation
- IV: Desegregation