Giving Compass' Take:

• Kevin Mahnken reviews Russ Whitehurst's assessment of the state of American education segregation since the Brown v. Board Verdict.

• How can philanthropy help desegregate schools? How can donors support the needs of students in low-performing schools? 

• Segregation severity varies by location. Memphis schools are more segregated than 50 years ago

One of the hottest debates in education policy today centers on the ultimate legacy of Brown: whether public schools have succeeded in bringing together white and minority students.

Some scholars and activists say that, following an energetic (if controversial) campaign of busing during the 1970s and ’80s, schools around the country have begun to resegregate, with white and black students growing more isolated from one another. Skeptics respond by citing demographic changes that have made the American education system more diverse overall, shrinking the number of majority-white schools to integrate.

Russ Whitehurst, an expert in education research and the founding director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, has explored the question of resegregation in a series of reports for the Brookings Institution. He argues that, contrary to the most pessimistic assertions of some commentators, school segregation has declined on the whole since the civil rights era.

That said, most of that progress in white-minority exposure has come from the enormous increase in the number of Hispanic and Asian-American students. Consequently, the percentages of both black and white students attending schools almost exclusively populated by members of their own race have plummeted since 1970.

By contrast, black-white exposure (the percentage of black students attending predominantly white schools) peaked around 1990 and has declined significantly over the past three decades. The problem of racial isolation is exacerbated by district lines, he notes, which often divide cities and neighborhoods fairly neatly by race.

Read the full article about Brown v. Board by Kevin Mahnken at The 74.