Recently, a judge in Alabama allowed a predominately white area within a predominately black school district to secede. This is an unprecedented move in recent history. The judge herself even expressed concerns that the decision risks undoing many gains of the desegregation efforts the area has achieved over the last 60 years. However, observers believe that the judge’s decision rested heavily on the fact that the Jefferson County School District, at the center of the case, has performed so poorly that the judge was faced with the choice between allowing secession and facing rapidly declining enrollment from the affluent sections of the school district.
If so, this would be a tacit admission on the part of the judge that the desegregationist program has largely failed in Jefferson County, Alabama. But this is hardly surprising. While holding great promise for many at the start of the Civil Rights Era, desegregation in the United States has been an abject failure on almost every objective measure of what it was supposed to accomplish. With a total of hundreds of billions of dollars spent, today’s African American youth still show a persistent scholastic achievement gap with all other students, shockingly low graduation rates and general life outcomes that are considerably below that of all other groups.
What’s worse, desegregation itself has almost entirely failed. Between forced busing, billion-dollar social experiments like that of Judge Russel Clark, in Kansas City, and many other rotund failures, today’s American schools remain as segregated as ever.