Guest Post

  • May 16, 2014
    Guest Post

    by A. Anthony Antosh, Ed.D. and Andrew Imparato.  Antosh is the Director of the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and a Professor of Special Education at Rhode Island College. Imparato is the Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and formerly served as Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Chaired by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling laid the foundation for the 1975 federal law (now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requiring access to a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. Before 1975, about one million American children with disabilities were receiving no education from the public school system. Since then, we have made progress in securing quality, integrated educational opportunities for American children with disabilities, but we still have a long way to go – particularly for children with intellectual disabilities. 

    There is a history of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities learning, living and working in separate settings. As the Court noted in Brown, “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” That statement was a stimulus for a civil rights movement that sought to integrate people with disabilities into every aspect of society. In the 1960s it was rare to find any public school that integrated students with intellectual disabilities. Although progress has been made, we still find widespread segregation of these students. Fifty-six percent of students (ages 6-21) with intellectual disabilities are primarily educated in separate classes or separate schools (United States Department of Education. 31st Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of IDEA, 2009). The effects of segregation are significant. Twenty-seven percent of people with intellectual disabilities (aged 21-64) do not have a high school diploma (American Community Survey, 2012). The curriculum offered in segregated settings is often vastly different than the curriculum offered in typical classrooms (Wehmeyer, 2003). Students in segregated classrooms are less engaged and spend more time alone (Hunt, Farron-Davis, Beckstead, Curtis, & Goetz, 1994).

  • May 15, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Rachel M. Kleinman, Assistant Counsel, Education Group, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    This week we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education and its promise and vision of equality. While there is indeed much to celebrate, both in the principles of Brown itself and its now six decade legacy, the fight for equal access to quality education in this country is still being waged on many fronts. At the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund (LDF), we are commemorating this landmark decision by looking back at our history and by doubling down on our current efforts to use law and advocacy to fulfill the promises of Brown.

    While Brown marked the beginning of the end of a legally-sanctioned, racially segregated, dual system of education, we have a long way to go to reach a day when all students have equal access to a quality education. Our country’s history of discrimination, along with deeply entrenched residential segregation, has left us with racially-identifiable schools that do not enjoy equality of resources. We still fight to ensure that all children have access to early childhood education, to adequate school facilities, to safe schools with positive climates, to certified teachers and to rigorous and inspiring courses of study. We also fight to keep our black and brown students free from the myriad policies, including overly harsh and damaging discipline practices, which conspire to push them out of schools and into the criminal justice system.

  • May 14, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    The issue before the Supreme Court in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 was whether it was constitutionally permissible for a school district to use race as a basis for assigning public school students to schools for the purposes of achieving a greater degree of racial integration than would otherwise have occurred under, for example, a program assigning children to the school nearest their homes. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion joined by three of his colleagues, an important “debate” in the case was over “which side is more faithful to the heritage” of Brown v. Board of Education. That debate is part of what historians have called the struggle for historical memory.

    According to the Chief Justice, “the position of the plaintiffs in Brown was spelled out in their brief and could not have been clearer: ‘[T]he Fourteenth Amendment prevents states from according differential treatment to American children in the basis of their color or race.’” What, he asked, “do the racial classifications at issue here do, if not accord differential treatment on the basis of race?” And, he quoted Robert Carter, who in arguing the case for the NAACP, said, “no State has any authority … to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.” Chief Justice Warren had written that a school board has to “determin[e] admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis.” What, Roberts again asked, “do the racial classifications do in these cases, if not determine admission to a public school on a racial basis?”

  • May 13, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society. 

    The sixtieth anniversary of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, on May 17, is an occasion for celebrating what it accomplished and reflecting on how it failed. Brown began a social revolution that ultimately ended the apartheid and Jim Crow laws that segregated every aspect of life in the south and in many other places as well. Brown was a crucial part of the foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most important federal civil rights laws since Reconstruction.

    Yet, it is a mistake to think that Brown brought about an end to the enormous racial inequalities in American society. The most recent census data indicates that 9.7 percent of whites live below the poverty line, compared with 25.6 percent of Latinos and 27.22 percent of African–Americans. Seventeen percent of white children are in families below the poverty line, compared with 32.5 percent of Latino and 35.3 percent of African-American children. This is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws and the racism that has existed throughout American history.

    It also is a reflection of the historic and continued inequality in American public education. The profound irony is that schools, the focus of Brown, are the area where racial segregation most persists. The tragic reality is that American public schools remain separate and unequal and are becoming ever more so.

  • May 9, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Eric Lesh, Fair Courts Project Manager, Lambda Legal

    *Lambda Legal brought the case of Garden State Equality, et al. v. Dow, et al., which secured the right to marry for same-sex couples in New Jersey.   

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has until June 29 to decide whether he will preserve the independence of the state’s nationally renowned judiciary or continue to retaliate against members of the New Jersey Supreme Court for decisions that he characterizes as “liberal” and “activist.”

    On October 21, 2013, the fight to bring the freedom to marry to New Jersey ended in a resounding victory when the New Jersey Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, refused to delay the lower court win in Garden State Equality v. Dow. The Supreme Court agreed that there was no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process continued.