Few, if any, events in this century have rivaled the impact of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education. l The decision evoked the passions, stirred the souls, and engaged the intellect of millions of Americans as they grappled with this singular legal decree. The plethora of books, articles, monographs, and commentaries written on this subject abound. Yet, after three decades of Brown, the academic community has not produced coherent analyses and well-conceptualized theories on the subject. Even more critically needed are analyses which assess the effect of desegregation on black pupil achievement and on life outcome chances for black children. To date, too few serious comprehensive theoretical analyses of Brown have been undertaken.
Unfortunately, the literature on this topic may be characterized as either abstracted empiricism lacking in theory or polemic lacking in both empiric and theoretic foundation. Clearly, what is needed is an attempt, however provisional, to synthesize the empirical with the theoretical. This paper is one such attempt to offer a degree of clarity. More accurately, it is an attempt to identify those variables that might be useful in clarifying and analyzing those issues involved in desegregation.
The effectiveness of desegregation appears mostly to be taken for granted. To do so, however, may produce what is known in medicine as iatrogensis, whereby the prescriptions or schedule of treatments produce an unintended and unanticipated ailment far worse than the original disease for which medical treatment was sought in the first instance. We may very well have reached such a point in the field of education as it relates to the issue of school desegregation.
Read the entire article in the Journal of Negro Education Vol 52, No 4 (1983)