Ansley Erickson: Today’s school desegregation advocates must recognize that past | Teachers College Columbia University

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Ansley Erickson: Today’s school desegregation advocates must recognize that past efforts were not “an uncomplicated success”


If the nation is to engage in a meaningful conversation about school desegregation, it will need to fully understand the complex history of past desegregation efforts, Ansley T. Erickson, Assistant Professor of History & Education, recently told a gathering at the City Club of Cleveland in a talk that aired on Ohio public television. Drawing upon the extensive research about the 43-year- long court-ordered desegregation of Nashville she conducted for her new book, Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and its Limits, Erickson said that past desegregation was not the failure it has often been portrayed as, “but nor was desegregation an uncomplicated success.”

Numbers only tell part of the story, Erickson says, and when one digs below the surface to investigate the educational realities of students in the desegregation era, in many ways the story was one of “how inequality was remade in the process of desegregation” in Nashville, and elsewhere, she said.

“There was a big space between statistical desegregation, which Nashville largely achieved, and substantive equality of educational opportunity,” Erickson said.

Erickson’s book argues that understanding the complexities of the ways in which schooling is interrelated with labor and property markets, economic growth models, and other economic policies, is key to devising future efforts that will achieve true educational equality – something that has eluded past policies, whatever gains have been made.

Read a recent opinion piece published by Erickson in The Tennessean.

Published Thursday, Apr 21, 2016

Ansley Erickson
Ansley Erickson, Assistant Professor of History & Education