Wednesday | June 7, 2017

The segregation of American students by race and class and the stark inequalities afforded by the American education system are two inseparable strands of a single social, political and economic reality with deep roots in our nation’s history. The Supreme Court’s historic 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education acknowledged this reality, declaring that, by its very nature, separate schooling is unequal schooling in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, America made real progress in the desegregation of its public schools and, as inequality lessened, educational outcomes improved for students of color and students living in poverty. In the early 1980s, however, the Reagan administration initiated policies that led to the eventual re-segregation of schools, undermining the political will to continue down the difficult but fruitful road toward integration. In the subsequent decades, most elected officials concluded that any further move toward the re-integration of schools was politically infeasible.

In recent years, however, there have been signs of a resurgent grassroots movement toward integration. From a variety of perspectives, our panelists will examine the state of segregation by race, class and ethnicity in America’s schools and discuss the promising initiatives and strategies that are being employed to aid in school integration.


John B. King, Jr., President and CEO, The Education Trust; former United States Secretary of Education

Gary Orfield, co-Director UCLA Civil Rights Project; Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

Ann Owens, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Southern California

Johanna Josaphat, Founding Teacher, Unison School

Remarks: Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker Institute

Moderator: Rick Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, Century Foundation