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Document Type

Special Section

Theme

INTRODUCTION

Abstract

As the United States Supreme Court currently considers the use of race in high school admittance policies in Seattle, WA (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District) and Louisville, KY (Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education), the issues of racial segregation and unequal school achievement have received renewed national attention. In an effort to understand the context surrounding this important decision, new eyes have turned to Seattle and Louisville to assess the state of school desegregation efforts more than fifty years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision. In Seattle, much of the controversy surrounding this case centers on who gets into Ballard High School, located in the predominantly white north end, and considered by many to be the marquee school in the district. Though Seattleites often pride themselves on their liberal values, and may tout the fact that Seattle was the largest city in the nation to implement a mandatory district-wide desegregation plan relying on busing without a court order, an analysis of historical and contemporary housing and schooling policies paints a more complicated picture of some of the racial dynamics at play in the city. In order to provide context for the issues at stake at Ballard High School and in the case before the Supreme Court, it is the intent of this article to present some of these complexities. After an overview of racial and housing demographic trends in Seattle, I present a revealing pattern of events surrounding district desegregation efforts since the Brown ruling. I then discuss implications of these patterns for today’s Seattle public school students. I have also included a timeline of key events in Appendix 1.

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