We like to think we've come a long way since the Little Rock Nine in 1957, where nine African-American students needed a protective escort of troops from the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to safely enter newly integrated Central High School. But nearly 54 years later, the desegregation fight in Little Rock, Arkansas continues.
This week, a federal appeals court will hear arguments over whether three Arkansas school districts should continue receiving tax dollars for desegregation. The three school districts are Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County. The extra money going to these school districts, including famed Central High School, for the purpose of funding desegregation may be cut if the federal court rules that funding is not necessary for these districts to achieve racial parity. These school districts were once predominately white, but after the 1957 and related subsequent decisions, white flight, and forced busing, currently all three are predominantly African-American.
It's particularly sad that over 50 years, after the Little Rock Nine and Brown v. Board of Education schools could go right back the pre-civil rights segregated class rooms so many fought and died to end. In May, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Miller, a conservative selected by George W. Bush, "found the payments were "proving to be an impediment to 'true desegregation' by rewarding school systems that don't meet their long-standing commitments." The payments to these school districts have totaled $1 billion over the past 50 years.
The issue is whether schools should continue to receive tax dollars as a reward for desegregation. The funding goes to busing and implementation of these desegregation programs. Critics point to the disparity in test scores between white and black students as evidence that the forced desegregation rules are failing children. The argument against the funding is that the school districts have figured out how to delay desegregation in order to accept the funding.
Read the full story at theGrio.com.
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