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Monday numbers: A closer look at the rising tide of school segregation

[1]Last Friday was the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education – the decision that struck down the noxious “separate but equal” concept that had undergirded America’s legally segregated public schools. Most of us are familiar with the foot-dragging and obstructionism with which that ruling has been met down through the decades, but fewer are aware of the hard fact that the political right is, quite literally, still doing its worst to reverse the ruling. As advocates for fair courts in Washington have been pointing out [2] with disturbing regularity of late, many of President Trump’s nominees to serve lifetime appointments on the federal bench have refused to affirm that Brown is and should remain the law of the land.

Here are some numbers that help tell this sobering story:

65 – number of years since the Brown ruling was handed down

14 – number of years since both Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito specifically lauded the Brown ruling as the law of the land during their confirmation hearings (“On Brown v. Board of Education, Trump judicial nominees won’t commit to US law and values,” USA Today, May 17, 2019 [3])

Nearly 30 – number of Trump executive branch and federal court nominees who have specifically refused to answer when asked whether the Brown decision was correctly decided (“Why Brown v. Board of Education could be in jeopardy, 65 years later,” Newsweek, May 17, 2019 [4])

1 – number of months since Jeffrey Rosen, Trump’s nominee for Deputy Attorney General to oversee the Civil Rights Division, took the same stance (ibid.)

107 – number of Trump nominees confirmed thus far for Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or District Court seats (“Judicial Nominees,” [5] Alliance for Justice)

29 – number of Trump judicial nominees currently pending on the Senate floor (ibid.)

129 – number of current judicial vacancies in the federal judiciary (ibid.)

1988 – year that desegregation peaked in the United States (“Harming our Common Future: America’s Segregated Schools 65 Years After Brown,” [6] UCLA Civil Right Project)

12 – percentage by which segregation of Black students in the South has increased since 1988 (ibid.)

90-100 – percentage of non-White students that marks a school as “intensely segregated” (ibid.)

18.2 – percentage of U.S. schools that meet that definition (ibid.)

300 – percentage increase in intensely segregated U.S. schools since 1988 (ibid.)

42 – percentage of Latinx students in the South who attend intensely segregated schools (“On 65th Anniversary of Brown v. Board, School Segregation Is Alive and Well—Especially for Latinos,” [7] Mother Jones)

36 – percentage of Black students who do (ibid.)

433 – number of North Carolina public schools that were “racially isolated” in the 2006-’07 school year (“Stymied by Segregation: How Integration Can Transform North Carolina Schools and the Lives of Its Students,” [8] N.C. Justice Center, March 2018)

579 – number in 2016-’17 (ibid.)

72 – percentage of North Carolina counties with at least one charter school in which the presence of a charter or charters has increased racial segregation (ibid.)

48 – percentage of children enrolled in traditional North Carolina public schools who are white (“Editorial: Stop legislature’s policies that make public schools more segregated,” [9]) WRAL.com, March 30, 2018)

56 – percentage of children enrolled in North Carolina charter schools who are white (ibid.)

50 – percentage of children enrolled in traditional North Carolina public schools who are economically disadvantaged (ibid.)

31 – percentage of children enrolled in North Carolina charter schools who are economically disadvantaged (ibid.)

50 – number of years since Hobgood Academy was founded in Halifax County for the purpose of providing white families a vehicle to avoid school integration (“Private white flight academy turns charter, set to deprive some of NC’s neediest students,” [10]) Notes from the Chalkboard blog, March 7, 2019)

3 – number of months since the state Board of Education voted to allow Hobgood to convert to a public charter school (ibid.)

$2 million – amount of public dollars that will flow to the school on an annual basis (up from the $69,000 it had been receiving from school vouchers) (ibid.)