HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  September 12, 2017

School Segregation is Making a Comeback

The U.S. education system was designed to favor the white and the rich, and you 'don't have to wave a confederate flag or have a statue of Robert E. Lee to effectively secede from your court-mandated school-desegregation order,' says the Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support the Real News Network because it gives members an opportunity to make uncensored comments. - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.


SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. School segregation is making a comeback. Just last week, the New York Times, for example, featured a story about a town's effort in Jefferson County, Alabama, to secede from the school district in order to create a predominantly white and wealthy school district for themselves.

A recent study conducted by EdBuild, a non-profit group that advocates for fairer primary education in the U.S., shows that secession efforts like this have been increasing significantly since year 2000. Back in 1954, the Supreme Court issued a landmark Brown versus Board of Education decision which outlawed school segregation. However, a later decision in 1974 partially reversed this, stating that school integration cannot occur across school district lines.

As a result, many states have made it easier for communities to secede from their school district, thus allowing them to segregate again. This violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which provides all of us equal protection under the law. Joining me now to take a closer look at this is Glen Ford. Glen is the Executive Editor of the Black Agenda Report. He's also the author of the book "The Big Lie." Glen, thank you so much for joining us.

GLEN FORD: Thanks for having me.

SHARMINI PERIES: So let's start off with this trend that is being set in many school districts and communities seceding from their district and establishing their own, thus creating another segregated school environment. What do you make of this, Glen?

GLEN FORD: Well, it shows that you don't have to wave a Confederate flag or have a statute of Robert E. Lee to effectively secede, at least to secede from your schools, your court-mandated school desegregation order. That's what the white citizens of Gardendale, Alabama are trying to do. Their city, which is mostly white, is situated within a county, Jefferson County, that's with the center of it being Birmingham, that is covered by a school desegregation order. Although, the state of Alabama has lots of laws that encourage so-called local control, and local control is in the South a euphemism for segregation, federal law, federal desegregation orders trump local law.

So, what the good, white citizens of Gardendale, Alabama are trying to do is get out from under federal law. If they succeed in doing this, and escaping the Jefferson County school desegregation order, that will certainly encourage similarly situated majority white communities to try to do the same. It's not just a legal battle. Since 2000, the U.S. Justice Department has released about 250 communities from their desegregation orders, effectively so. That is, the Justice Department treats these 250 communities as if they have already uprooted schools, a Jim Crow education, and therefore should be treated as if they're released from the order.

The result, of course, is that these communities inevitability go back to resegregate themselves. That is the purpose. So we see that the momentum for school desegregation has gone out not only from the courts which are now dominated by right-wing judges, but also from the executive branch and certainly from the Congress.

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. Now, this is allowed to happen largely because in the United States, school funding is mostly based on local property taxes. Give us a sense of how the tax system works and why this contributes to the kind of segregation that they're able to act upon now.

GLEN FORD: Well, there's a symbiotic relationship between the market economy and those tax laws. That is, rather wealthy, and that usually goes with white, in a relatively speaking communities, which can put more money into their schools, then attract like-minded white folks. But when you're under a school desegregation order, you can advertise your town as having "the best schools" which really means the whitest schools.

And what then occurs in this market economy in a racist country is that folks of light complexion and affluent means stay away from those communities and they deteriorate economically. So, the good white fathers of places like Gardendale believe that they're not being racist by trying to escape these school desegregation orders, that they are simply fighting for the survival of their town, making their town attractive to new blood, meaning new money, and white blood, by reverting to local control. Local control being a euphemism for segregation.

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. Now, according to the organization I was referring to, EdBuild, they report that, I believe, 50 most segregating school district borders, the wealthier districts have an average of, say, 9% poverty rate, while their lower income neighbors live with an average poverty rate of roughly 46%. This begs the question, was the U.S. education system established and designed to favor the rich? I can imagine what your answer is going to be to that, Glen, but gradually this has become the way, and now we have President Trump in place who has appointed Betsy DeVos, who seems to be determined to accentuate these inequalities. What can you tell us about these policies?

GLEN FORD: Well, two things. I'm glad you brought up history. Yes, the United States educational system, to the extent that it existed, was for the rich. The South had no public education system whatsoever until after the defeat of the Confederacy and the rise of largely black Reconstruction governments which created public school systems in the South. In terms of DeVos, DeVos is ,of course, one of the main actors and certainly one of the wealthiest ones in the so-called movement for private school vouchers.

Private school vouchers were born as a political movement in the South when counties in states all across the South during what was called "massive resistance," massive resistance of school desegregation, threatened to close down their public schools rather than integrate them, and some of them did. In Prince Edward County, Virginia, the schools were closed for more than a year.

But Alabama made the same threats, and in those places where the whole system was not closed down, most of the white kids left the system and entered private schools. These were called "segregation academies," and the presence of these segregation academies as reactions to court-ordered desegregation created the demand for public funding of vouchers to pay for private schools. This is one of the reasons that the so-called movement for private school vouchers has never caught on in the black community, because it from the beginning, was associated with segregation academies.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Glen, I thank you so much for joining us today, and shedding some light on what's going on here. Obviously a pattern developing we should keep our eye on. Thank you so much for joining us today.

GLEN FORD: Thank you.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Will Congress Affirm its Constitutional Power to Stop the War in Yemen?
European Left Divided Over Brexit
Marilyn Mosby: From Freddie Gray to GTTF
Trump and the Rise of the European Right, with Reps of UK Labour Party, De Linke, Podemos, and Syriza
Petroleum Executives Visit Trump, Increasing Offshore Oil Drilling
EPA Sued for Removing Independent Scientists from its Advisory Board
Inequality in America: A National Town Hall
Laura Flanders Show: Women's History Makes The Future
Corbyn Allies in Labour Attacked For Supporting Palestinian Struggle
Paul Jay: Threats facing Humanity, Russiagate & the Role of Independent Media
Kochs and ALEC Behind Criminalization of Dissent Bills in Five States
West's Anti-Russian Fervor Will Help Putin Win Election On Sunday
Stephen Hawking: Fighter for Progressive Politics
Corbyn Smeared as 'Russian Stooge' for Requesting Evidence on Poisoned Spy
Chief in Charge of Internal Affairs To Retire from Baltimore Police
Corbyn Calls for Evidence in Escalating Poison Row
Sanders Resolution Against War in Yemen Challenged by Mattis
Senate Expands 'Lobbyist Bill' to Deregulate Real Estate
Expressions of Afro-Asian Solidarity During the Cold War
Economic Benefits of Tax Cuts Should Have Arrived - Where Are They?
Trump's Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Is Another World Possible? - Leo Panitch on RAI (4/4)
Students Demand Leaders Address the Root Causes of Gun Violence
Far-Right Ministers in Chile's New Government Placed in Sensitive Positions
Israeli Military Strangles Its Own Weapons Manufacturer to Privatize It
Not Without Black Women
Newly Tapped Sec of State Mike Pompeo Comes with Deep Ties to the Koch Brothers
The CIA's New Torturer-in-Chief
Anti-Pipeline Indigenous 'Mass Mobilization' Has Begun
UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Cause Death in Venezuela,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting