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Education and racial equity in the U.S.: Dates to remember

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Common School
1838 Horace Mann, Secretary of Massachusetts Board of Education, launches The Common School Journal, pioneering the idea that free public education, with instruction by professional teachers, should be provided in schools for children of all backgrounds.

The Kalamazoo Case
1875 Michigan Supreme Court rules that the Kalamazoo School Board could raise taxes to pay for free public high school, setting a national precedent.

Plessy v. Ferguson
1896 Supreme Court legalizes racial discrimination with "separate but equal" doctrine; segregation based on race is ruled legal as long as facilities are deemed of equal quality.

The Souls of Black Folk
1903 W.E.B. Du Bois publishes this collection of essays in which he advocates for liberal arts education for Blacks, in contrast to Booker T. Washington’s focus on vocational education in the Black community.

Stanford-Binet IQ test
1916 New test launches era of intelligence testing to sort students in schools. The test promotes the notion that individual intelligence is inborn and can be scientifi cally determined and represented by a single test score.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
1954 Supreme Court rules, "In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Supreme Court also states that schools are to desegregate with "all deliberate speed."

U.S. Civil Rights Act
1964 Legislation empowers the federal government to withhold federal funding for school districts that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.

Head Start Act
1965 Signed into law by President Johnson, this act provides comprehensive early childhood education and assistance to low-income families.

First magnet school opens
1968 McCarver Elementary opens in an African American neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington with the goal of desegregating by offering an advanced curriculum that would appeal to affluent and White students.

San Antonio Indepedent School District v. Rodriquez
1973 Supreme Court rejects the argument that education is a right protected by the Constitution and the view that the funding system based on local property taxes is discriminatory.

Milliken v. Bradley
1974 As White flight from cities intensifies, Supreme Court limits desegregation plans that cut across school district lines, and upholds that suburban districts cannot be ordered to desegregate without evidence of intentional discrimination.

Test score gap narrows
1986 Black-White test score gap reaches its narrowest point on national student assessments in math, following more than a decade of improvement. In reading, the gap continues to narrow until 1988. In subsequent years the test score gap widens.

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools
1992 Publication of Jonathan Kozol’s book highlights class and race disparities in the quality of urban schools and the impact of underfunding and inadequate staffing on students of color.

No Child Left Behind Act
2002 Federal education law requires schools to keep achievement data by racial and ethnic group and meet improvement targets for each group.

Rulings on race and school choice
2007 Supreme Court declares school choice plans in Seattle and Louisville unconstitutional for considering race when assigning students to public schools.

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