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What is the legacy of Brown vs. Board of Education? Well known for establishing racial equality as a central commitment of American schools, the case also inspired social movements pursuing equality in education for students across all lines of difference, including language, gender, disability, immigration status, socio-economic status, religion, and sexual orientation. Yet, more than a half-century following Brown, schools, parents and policy makers still debate whether the ruling requires all-inclusive classrooms, and today American schools appear to be more segregated than ever. School choice, once a strategy for avoiding racial integration, has emerged as a method for racial mixing in some school systems, even as magnet and pilot schools, charter schools, and vouchers for private schools enable new forms of self-separation by language, gender, disability, and ethnicity.
In In Brown's Wake, Martha Minow examines the way that Brown continues to reverberate over a wide-spectrum of equality issues in public and school choice programs. She argues that the terms placed on such initiatives carry serious consequences for both the character of American education and civil society itself. Though the original promise of Brown remains more symbolic than effective, Minow demonstrates the power of its vision in the struggles for equal education regardless of students' social identity, in the United States and internationally. Further, she urges renewed commitment to the project of social integration even while identifying the complex routes necessary to achieve it. A concise introduction to Brown and its aftermath, In Brown's Wake explores surprising and widespread effects of one of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the century with elegance and economy.