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News and Events:
Fifty Years After: Penn Law Professors Reflect on Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education
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Fifty Years After: Penn Law Professors Reflect on Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education
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FIFTY YEARS AFTER Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to end segregation in public schools continues to inspire debate on its legacy, as it did during an academic forum at Penn Law in April to celebrate the golden anniversary of the case.

Regina Austin, William A. Schnader Professor of Law, argued that black schoolchildren remain culturally segregated in the post-Brown era, victims of an educational system whose ideology favors white students. High-stakes standardized tests, disproportionate placement in special education or remedial classes, exclusion from honors programs, and school curricula modeled on white norms put blacks at a competitive disadvantage, contended Austin.

“The schools are simply not structured to produce successful, competent, and confident black students and black students in turn have responded with an informal, culturally-based form of resistance (to public school education),” she said.

While Seth Kreimer, Kenneth W. Gemmill Professor of Law, agreed that the aspirations of the Brown decision have yet to be fulfilled, he lauded the progress that has been made in education and other areas. He said two-thirds of black students in the south attend integrated schools, the rate of African American students graduating college is three times that of white students in 1954, and the percentage of African American attorneys is up five-fold since the Brown decision.

Brown v. Board of Education also spurred the civil rights movement and the federal courts’ “dismantling of American apartheid,” asserted Kreimer, referring to decisions that ended segregation in other public spaces, such as golf courses, restaurants, swimming pools and buses.

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