School Segregation is Alive and Well in Hartford, Conn.

Kaitlin Mahar

From the United States Supreme Court case of Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954 to the Connecticut State Supreme Court case of Sheff v. O’Neill in 1989, segregation in public schools has been a hot-button issue in American public school systems, and public school systems of the state of Connecticut are certainly no exception.

However, Connecticut was recently lauded by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, which said in its April 2015 report that “it is the only state in the Northeast that is going in a positive direction and it has created voluntary processes that have clearly reduced severe segregation.”

Imagine an era in which students cannot learn in a diverse environment and are subsequently given an inferior educational experience. Now imagine that happening today, and, ironically, in the state being praised for its efforts to desegregate.

The Connecticut Mirror reported data released in January 2016 by the Connecticut State Department of Education shows that 11,670 black and Hispanic students attended segregated schools in Hartford in 2015, which is a nearly 25 percent decrease from the number of students attending desegregated schools in 2011. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so upsetting if it weren’t for the fact that the Department of Education also reported that 21,412 minority K-12 students live in Hartford, meaning over half of Hartford’s minority students are still forced into segregation. How is it that, in a state that is considered to be so progressive, there are still so many children left behind? Despite all of the excuses spewing like molten garbage from the mouths of Hartford bigwigs, the public still has yet to receive a concrete answer.

Regardless of neighborhood residential patterns, which are a significant cause for the segregation of public schools, all students deserve the opportunity to an equal education elsewhere. A person’s education should not depend on one’s race, socioeconomic status, or neighborhood in which they live – none of these have to do with one’s ability to learn and willingness to be taught. The segregation in Hartford is not only a case of racism, but also classism. Apparently, America has forgotten the 14th Amendment, and Hartford is no exception.