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Black, White, and Brown: The Transformation of Public Education in America


by Charles Vert Willie & Sarah Susannah Willie — 2005

This article reflects upon changes in U.S. education since the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The authors reject both the naively hopeful and the bitterly cynical interpretations of the efficacy of Brown in favor of a more moderate assessment: Brown has had many positive effects, they argue, but it has been slow going and there is much work yet to be done. Drawing on their research in primary, secondary, and post-secondary educational settings, the authors argue that the concept of justice is a negotiated concept that depends on the "representative viewpoints"; they examine the obstacles that have impeded the full implementation of Brown; they note a few school systems that have achieved more just and equitable school systems; they consult census data that reveal increasing equity between Blacks and Whites when it comes to educational achievement; and finally, they examine the legacy of the Brown decision for other groups of children. Referring to Brown as a "work in progress," the authors argue that group-specific remedies are not only legally defensible, but also crucial in achieving greater educational equity and student diversity.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 3, 2005, p. 475-495
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11797, Date Accessed: 10/20/2017 1:09:19 AM

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About the Author
  • Charles Willie
    Harvard University
    E-mail Author
    CHARLES VERT WILLIE is the Charles W. Eliot Professor of Education and Urban Studies, Emeritus, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. A past vice president of the American Sociological Association and court-appointed master in the Boston school-desegregation case, Professor Willie is the author of 28 books and more than 100 scholarly articles. He has served as expert witness and developed school-desegregation plans for scores of school districts throughout the United States.
  • Sarah Willie
    Swarthmore College
    E-mail Author
    SARAH SUSANNAH WILLIE, his daughter, is associate professor and chair of the Black Studies Program at Swarthmore College. She is the author of Acting Black: College, Race and the Performance of Identity (Routledge 2003).
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