Brown fades: The end of court-ordered school desegregation and the resegregation of American public schools

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Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

In this paper we investigate whether the school desegregation produced by court-ordered desegregation plans persists when school districts are released from court oversight. Over 200 medium-sized and large districts were released from desegregation court orders from 1991-2008. We find that racial school segregation in these districts increased gradually following release from court order, relative to the trends in segregation in districts remaining under court order. These increases are more pronounced in the South, in elementary grades, and in districts where pre-release school segregation levels were low. These results suggest that court-ordered desegregation plans are effective in reducing racial school segregation, but that their effects fade over time in the absence of continued court oversight.

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These data catalogue all medium to large-sized school districts ever under a court ordered desegregation plan. They include districts' dismissal status and, if released, the year of dismissal. Information on date of release was last updated in August 2010. We did not make full attempts to gather data on small districts (fewer than 2000 students), districts that desegregated voluntarily, and districts required to desegregate by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Users may want to consider eliminating such districts from their analysis. (Download data)

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