The Jefferson County Public School District in Birmingham, Alabama has been on the wane for decades. The district is heavily black and has been plagued by low achievement, mind-blowing drop-out rates and a generally disordered atmosphere that one could be forgiven for mistaking with a county jail or rec yard at a state prison.
But recently, a federal judge, famous for taking extreme liberal stances on most of her rulings, has allowed a small subsection of the district, which is almost exclusively populated by whites, to secede from its failing parent district.
The Gardendale community will officially be able to form its own school district, completely removing all responsibilities to and relationships with the Jefferson County School District. This represents a tacit approval by the judge of resegregating the Gardendale schools. However, many observers point out that there are some nuances to the decision.
For starters, the Gardendale schools aren’t completely white. In fact, as much as 20 percent of the student body of the new school district will be comprised of blacks. But these aren’t ordinary blacks. They’re the upper middle class, many of whom have been the most vocal supporters of resegregation. The upper-class blacks don’t want their children attending school with their lower class black peers.
Another issue is the general backdrop of desegregation in the United States. Almost every single goal that was thought to be achievable with federally forced desegregation has turned out to be an abject failure. The racial achievement gap is as large as ever. And most school districts remain heavily segregated.