A recent decision by a U.S. federal judge has renewed public concern over the fate of desegregation efforts of the nation’s schools. It’s been over 60 years since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which required all school districts in the United States to allow blacks to attend. Yet segregation still persists throughout the country. What’s worse, almost none of the anticipated benefits have accrued to black children, despite hundreds of billions of dollars having been spent.
The current case stems from the efforts of the Gardendale community to break away from the Jefferson County school district, in Central Alabama. The judge, Madeline Haikala, gave a lengthy speech, in which she expressed grave reservations that the newly established school district, which will contain about 80 percent white students, runs the risk of seriously compromising the integrationist efforts of the last 60 years. However, the judge went ahead and allowed the community to form a new district, stating that the benefits outweighed the risks.
The judge explained her ruling by saying that the district was too large and diverse, that Gardendale deserved to retain local control of its schools. She also claimed that she was worried that black children who were caught in the middle of the fight for Gardendale to break away and form its own district would be blamed and scapegoated.
However, some observers point out that it’s upper class blacks themselves who may be the driving force. The small number of blacks in Gardendale don’t want their children forced to attend ghetto schools.