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Publications [#45343] of Charles T. Clotfelter


  1. Charles T. Clotfelter, After Brown: The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation (2004, 2006, paperback), Princeton: Princeton University Press [Ordering_Info]
    (last updated on 2007/01/04)

    The landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 set into motion a process of desegregation that would eventually transform American public schools. The most visible effect was on the racial mix of schools and the resulting contact between students of different racial and ethnic groups. This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of how that interracial contact changed over the first 50 years following the decision.

    Using both published and unpublished data on school enrollments from schools across the country, it employs measures of interracial contact, racial isolation, and segregation, to chronicle the changes wrought by desegregation. It goes beyond previous studies by drawing on previously unanalyzed data for the period before 1967, when enrollment data began to be collected by the federal government, by calculating segregation for metropolitan areas rather than just school districts, by including private schools in assessing segregation, by presenting recent information on segregation within schools, and by measuring segregation across colleges and universities.

    Two main conclusions emerge from this analysis. First, the interracial contact in American schools and colleges experienced a sea-change, with the transformation of public schools in the previously-segregated South being the most dramatic. As an illustration, in 2000 the country's most segregated metropolitan area was less segregated than all 20 of the most segregated metropolitan areas in 1970. Second, however, factors combined to limit the desegregation that did occur. In particular, as racial disparities within public school districts declined, those between districts grew larger. Four main reasons explain why actual desegregation fell short of what it could have been: white reluctance to accept racially mixed schools, the multiplicity of options for avoiding such schools, the willingness of local officials to accommodate the wishes of reluctant whites, and the eventual loss of will on the part of those who had been the strongest protagonists in the push for desegregation.

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