The Conundrum of School Desegregation: Positive Student Outcomes and Waning Support

Janet Ward Schofield, Leslie R.M. Hausmann


The Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision was a landmark in many respects. Most importantly, it overturned the separate but equal doctrine embodied in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), laying the groundwork for massive change in our society. In particular, it laid the basis for dismantling state supported racial segregation in education, housing, and other important areas of life. For social scientists there is another, though less important, reason why the Brown decision was so crucial. It was the first case in which a Supreme Court decision specifically mentioned the input of social science experts (Cook, 1979). Although there is a lack of agreement about how important a role this input played, social scientists were buoyed by the fact that a statement signed by a large number of leading social scientists was cited.

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