Brown v. Board 63 Years Later

Photo: Wikipedia

As more and more Latinos succeed in school, it’s important to recognize the long road it took for them to get there. Graduation rates and test scores for Latinos are the highest they’ve ever been, and more Latinos are entering college. And while there are outdated systems that keep many of our children from having the tools to succeed, we’ve come a long way since 1954, when the Supreme Court decided that segregating schools is un-American. Still, 63 years later, schools are experiencing the effects of those systems.

On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, ordering the desegregation of our nation’s public schools. While segregation in schools doesn’t exist in the same context as it did then, it continues to be an issue. Last year, a Government Accountability Office report showed a sharp increase over the last decade in what they classify as isolated schools, where more than three-quarters of the student population is of the same race/ethnicity. Interestingly, this isolation is happening most in some of our country’s most diverse states and cities. In states like California, Texas, and New York, more than half of their Latino students attend schools that are more than 90% Latino.

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Economic Rights Are Essential to the Pursuit of Happiness

Richard_Cordray_newLast week, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray addressed students at Michigan State University on the anniversary of three pivotal moments in American History: the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974. With these three historic events, the United States moved closer to fully realizing the inevitable truth that civil rights, political rights, and economic rights are inextricably linked. They are all necessary for a free and democratic society.

While Brown v. Board of Education and the 1964 Civil Rights Act are relatively known for their roles in reducing legal discrimination, Director Cordray used his speech to highlight a less-known antidiscrimination law: the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. For the first time, ECOA outlawed discrimination by creditors against borrowers based on race, ethnicity, sex, age, and national origin.

While fairness in the lending law has been on the books for four decades, lending discrimination against people of color persists today. People of color have always been targeted by subprime lenders, but the housing crisis fanned the flames of predatory practices as lenders offered risky mortgages that ultimately led to default and foreclosure, pushing millions out of their homes. Latino wealth was decimated, and the racial wealth gap between Latinos and Whites continues to widen more than ever.

Even when controlling for similar credit profiles, research shows people of color routinely pay significantly more for auto loans than Whites.

Last December, NCLR strongly supported a historic $98 million settlement between the CFPB and auto lending giant Ally Financial. In violation of the ECOA, more than 200,000 Hispanics, Asians, and Blacks were charged higher rates for auto loans.

Despite its efforts to root out unscrupulous lenders in the auto sector, the CFPB has its hands tied due to the exemption of the real culprits in auto loan discrimination against minority borrowers: the car dealership lenders who set initial loan prices for borrowers. Despite the fact that auto lenders play a pivotal role in working with customers and setting auto loan prices, the CFPB has no oversight authority of the dealers because they are not considered to be engaging in financial activities.

The auto market must not be exempt from the preservation of Latinos’ economic and civil rights. Like buying a home, the decision to buy a car often involves a large loan paid over a period of years, amounting to the second most expensive purchase most borrows will make in a lifetime.

As of today, laws like the Equal Credit Opportunity Act are in place to protect people of color from discrimination, but ongoing price discrimination against minority borrowers doesn’t reflect this resolution.

To create a fully fair and equitable market, the CFPB should be granted authority over the auto market to directly enforce the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and all relevant antidiscrimination legislation.

Advancing the Promise Made in Brown v. Board of Education 60 Years Later

By Leticia Bustillos, Associate Director, Education Policy Project, NCLR

BrownvBoard_FB-06 (2)_blogsThis weekend we commemorate the day the highest court in the land declared in one voice that “separate but equal” has no place in our country and that all children, regardless of ethnicity or race, are entitled to an equal education. Because of the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, “equity” and “excellence” are not mutually exclusive terms used to describe an ideal education. They are also expectations that we have for all children when it comes to their opportunities to learn and to achieve. The legacy of Brown v. Board of Education cannot be disputed: the opportunities available today to our community are greater than they have ever been in our history.

Today, more than four million Latinos over the age of 25 have Bachelor’s degrees or higher. In 2012, nearly three-quarters of Latinos attained high school diplomas; and in fall 2014, almost three million Latinos enrolled in college, representing a 9 percent increase over just a decade ago. Latinos hold some of the most prestigious posts in our government; examples such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor demonstrate the potential of our diverse Latino community.

While we celebrate these tremendous accomplishments, our triumphs are tempered by education challenges that remain to be addressed:

  • Less than a quarter of Latino students are proficient in reading and math in fourth and eighth grades, respectively.
  • At least one quarter of Latino youth failed to attain a high school diploma.
  • As much as 30 percent of the Latino students entering college require some form of remediation.
  • In 2011–2012, only 10 percent of U.S.-born Latinos earned Bachelor’s degrees.

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, we must draw attention to these startling facts and challenge ourselves to do more to change them. Children deserve more than access to education; they also deserve for that education to be of quality.

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This was crystallized in Chief Justice Earl Warren’s majority opinion: “In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” Though change has been slow and far from equal, we have reason for hope. With the adoption of college and career-ready standards in 44 states, we are holding ourselves accountable to ensure “equity and excellence” is not just the ideal, but the reality in our schools. In adopting the Common Core State Standards, we have declared in one voice that no single group of students is better than others, and that all children have the capacity to achieve greatness.

It is as true today as it was 60 years ago, that education, as Chief Justice Warren wrote, “is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment.” Our children’s education should not be left to luck or happenstance. It must be a right guaranteed to them on equal terms. To do otherwise negates our responsibility to our children and undermines the legacy of Brown.