Background/Context: Prior research on Milliken v. Bradley focuses on the failure of this case to implement interdistrict busing in the highly segregated Detroit schools. Much of this work focuses explicitly on desegregation, rather than on equity and addressing individual, systemic, institutional, and organizational challenges that may prevent the advancement and actualization of desegregation to benefit Black students, teachers, and communities.
Purpose/Objective: In this study, we shed light on the impacts of desegregation on Black students, teachers, and communities. We argue that Brown, Milliken, and associated policies that attempt to address segregation focus mostly on student assignment policies. Our focus instead is on highlighting the underconceptualized microlevel realities of desegregation, which include the losses of cultural and community connections, strong role models, and connections to school.
Population/Participants: This study draws from interview data collected from three experts in the field of education whose research focuses on school desegregation. The interview participants have written scholarly articles and/or book chapters about desegregation and related influences on/for Black teachers, Black students, and Black communities spanning the PreK–12 and higher education spectrum.
Research Design: This study employs in-depth qualitative interviewing.
Data Collection and Analysis: Interviews were conducted by phone and lasted approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Participants in the study were asked questions about the impact of desegregation and education on Black teachers’ experience, self-concept, dedication, and retention; Black students’ experience of schools and school-related success; experience and connection of Black communities; and “next steps” in educating Black students. An interpretive perspective was used to guide the interview analyses in this study.
Findings/Results: Analysis of the expert interviews reveals the underexplored microlevel losses and harmful effects of desegregation policies and politics on Black children, families, and communities.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Evidence from these researchers who have studied desegregation suggests that for many Black students and educators, desegregation was unsuccessful—even when there were superficial indicators of success. We suggest that both researchers and policy makers should consider drawing from the potential losses associated with desegregation and focusing on the equity, regardless of schooling location and population.