Brown vs. the Board of Education was a landmark case that overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson on its separate but equal doctrine which led to the eventual desegregation of public schools. In this unanimous decision from the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren read the final decision stating that “…segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities… We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka is well known as the case that overturned the separate but equal doctrine that was legitimized previously by Plessy vs. Ferguson. The case was named for Oliver Brown whose daughter was refused admission to a white school just 7 blocks from her house. Instead she had to ride a bus to a black school a mile from her home. There were actually 11 families involved in the initial case that was heard by the US District Court for the District of Kansas which while they sympathized with the plaintiff’s position the court upheld the early decision set by Plessy vs. Ferguson. The Kansas Case was joined on appeal the US Supreme Court by cases from South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. The High Court initially heard the case on December 9, 1952, but failed to reach a decision. They Decided to hear the re-arguments the following year but wanted the arguments to be focused on the 14th amendment. The case was reheard again in December of 1953. Justice Warren did not publish the court’s ruling until May 17, 1954. He waited as he revised the opinion until he could get a unanimous decision from the court.
Key Issues/Main Points3
The Court’s decision gave black students access to white schools at all levels. This allowed black students access to the same opportunities as their white counterparts. Segregation did not happen overnight however. It was an arduous process in that lasted into the early 1970’s in some areas. It was an important step in that direction however. Also, the court’s decision mandating the desegregation of public schools did not affect segregation in other areas of society such as on public transportation, in restaurants, and other public venues at the time.
The decision of the court gave minority students the opportunity to see their educational opportunities as on par with their white counter parts. This in itself was motivation for achievement leading to an increase in enrollment of black students in colleges.
Change in America’s public education system was necessary to accommodate people from the diverse backgrounds and facilitate the integration of American society. Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas was one of the most historically influential landmark cases of its time and would have far reaching affects that still touch us to years later. The decision came at a time when minority groups especially blacks were experiencing segregation in school and other public institutions. The court’s decision initially met stiff resistance especially from southern states but eventually was embraced it fully.
It is apparent that historical events and philosophical shifts have greatly affected the current k-12 education system in the country. More importantly, the unfolding social economic changes will continue having profound effects on public education. Existence of diverse cultures for instance has presented a cultural dimension in our education system (Gross, 1991). In this respect, the need of catering for individual needs of learners from diverse backgrounds is greater than ever before. With the emergence of learning that is student centered, introduction of curriculum that meets learning desires of the students is a formidable challenge in the current system. The predicted educational output from the current cultural changes in the k-12 education is the increase of multicultural awareness among students from diverse backgrounds. This development will promote racial tolerance and understanding particularly in the schools and in society.
Educational Implications then, now and in the future7
With the rise of the inclusion of colored students in white schools, came a new level of interaction between people of different races allowing for the development of a higher level of tolerance and understanding among the those from diverse backgrounds. These changes would come slowly over time and are still issues that we struggle with in today’s society.
Decision Making/Problem Solving8
Students from diverse backgrounds are now coming together in the same classroom for the first time. They have to learn to get along with each other, but they can also learn from each other and benefit from each other’s differencesSupport of Research9