Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark case in the history of American education. There were several events and issues which led up to this critical event. From the 1892 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Case, the precedent of “separate but equal” was set. This doctrine effected the school system , in that there were separate schools for white and black children. These schools were constitutional as long as they were equal. In the 1900s, with industrialism in the forefront, the cities went through a process of ghettoization. This concept is crucial because it illustrates that people began to live in ethnic enclaves.
These neighborhoods later effected where students would attend school. In turn, the quality of the schools were also effected depending on the area. In 1908, the case of Braya College v. Kentucky attacked the racially mixed school of Braya College in Kentucky. The state mandated that there be separate facilities separated by at least 25 miles. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling and Braya College was segregated. Then in 1931, the issue of segregation was challenged by the Lemon Grove Incident in San Diego. In this case, which was used as a precedent for the Brown v.
Board of Education case, the parents of Mexican children demanded that their children be given the same education as the local ranch owners’ children. The judge favored for the Mexican children and ruled that school desegregation was illegal. The 1936 Berlin Olympics marked a historical moment in history when Jesse Owens broke the racial boundaries. This moment, much to the unhappiness of the world’s leading political leaders, opened up the arena of world class athletics to a greater number of athletes regardless of race. Although this did not happen instantaneously, the Berlin Olympics marked the beginning of this trend.
Finally, another event leding up to the Brown v. Board of Education was the case of Gaines v. Missouri in 1938. In this case, Gaines, a black law student, wanted to go to law school in Missouri. Due to a lack of separate facilities, Missouri had the option of paying for Gaines to attend law school in another state which has separate facilities. Gaines, however, wanted to go to school in Missouri. The Supreme Court ruled that either Missouri allow Gaines to attend school at that institution or they build him separate facilities, which they did. This case was very similar to the case of Sweatt v.
Painter in 1950, which will be detailed later. The decade between 1950 and 1960 was a very shakeytime period in terms of segregation and the educational system. The Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education was the mainevent during that decade in regards to integrating and equalizing the school system. This case challenged the doctrine of “separate but equal. ” It was ruled, in an unanimous decision, that segregated schools were inherently unequal. Furthermore, the judges, in their ruling stated that “A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn.
The black children were deprived the equal protection of the laws stated in the Fourteenth Amendment.. The integration of public schools was mandated by the Supreme Court. Brown v. Board of Education was not the first case which ruled that segregated schools caused a sense of inferiority for black children. In the 1950 Bolling v. Sharpe case, the judge, which ruled in opposition of the black children, stated that “school segregation is humiliating to Negroes. It brands the Negro with the mark of inferiority and asserts that he is not fit to associate with white people.
From this opinion, Bolling v. Sharpe went before the Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor on the blackchildren at about the same time the ruling for Brown v. Board of Education was handed down. There were many issues related to segregation and higher education during this decade. In Sweatt v. Painter, similar to Gaines v. Missouri, the Supreme Court forced the University of Texas Law School to admit Sweatt, a black student, because the black law school was not equal in terms of reputation to the white school. Additionally, in McLaurin v.
Oklahoma State, McLaurin argued that his constitutional rights were being violated. McLaurin was forced to sit in isolated seats in a classroom, library and cafeteria. In another unanimous decision, the Court ruled in favor of McLaurin. These two cases contributed to the case of Brown v. Board of Education by setting the precedent that the doctrine of “separate but equal” was not applicable to the educational system. Aside from the various Supreme Court cases regarding education, there were many important issues residing during this time period.
The Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum, America launched their first satellite, the Second Red Scare was picking up pace, the Korean War began, and we had the entry of the Counter Culture. In addition, racial boundaries were being broken in athletics, with Jackie Robinson entering the Major League of Baseball, and in literature, with many black authors getting published, including Ralph Ellison with his novel The Invisible Man which depicted the feelings of African-Americans as not being seen in American socity.
The era that followed the 1950s consisted of many educational controversies which had their roots in the past. Brown v. Board of Education was the foundation for the integration of the educational system which was confronted with many adversities. The integration of the schools heightened racial tensions. White students led strikes to prevent the black students from entering the schools. Teachers noted an increase in crime and fighting. The test scores of the two groups varied greatly, with predominantly white schools scoring in the nation’s top 5% and predominantly black schools scoring in the nation’ s lowest 5%.
The racial tension would erupt causing riots and fighting. Over time these tensions grew less volatile, however, they have never fully disappeared to this day. Tracking became an important issue in the educational system. Tracking was thought to be a solution to the problem of having to deal with students at different levels, hampering the educational process for everyone involved. Students were sorted based on IQ tests. Through the use of this system, achievement scores rose, and the system was broadened to junior high and elementary schools.
However, in the case of Hobson v. Hansen, the destruction of the tracking system was ordered. The 1960s marked an era with increased awareness of racial issues and Civil Rights. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. Martin Luther King, Jr. And Malcolm X became strong political leaders. The deep south was the last to integrate their school system in the 1960s. In 1963, Governor Wallace would not admit black students into the University of Alabama and was ordered by President Kennedy, with the threat of the National Guard, to allow the students to enter the University.
In 1961, the Freedom Riders assembled to integrate the busing system. In 1972, the Supreme Court decides to use busing as the means by which to integrate the schools. In 1978, America is introduced to the idea of “reverse discrimination. ” The case of UC Regents v. Bakke used the Fourteenth Amendment and Title 6 of the Civil Rights Bill to fight discrimination of a white man into the entry of a public medical school. Bakky was a student who applied to the UC Davis Medical School twice and was denied.
He was urged by one of the faculty members at the school to which he applied to file suit. His claim was that the program was unconstitutional because there were an assigned number of spaces prioritized for minority students. The Supreme Court ruling allowed him into medical school, however, the program was not found to be unconstitutional. This case opened up the controversies on Affirmative Action and the idea of reverse discrimination. These are issues which education is still struggling to overcome.
Today, in 1999, we as a society are still struggling to provide equal access and equal opportunity to our students. We are faced with fighting discrimination, having sufficient funding to provide an education to our youth, and discovering strategies for effective teaching and learning. Politics greatly influence education, in that politicians have control of the entire system, yet they are so detached from it that they do not understand what are the needs of our schools. The issues which we are confronted with are greatly emphasized and effect the education system.