Racial Segregation In Our Education Is Still A Thing, Featuring Campbell F. Scribner

Racial segregation among school districts is becoming more apparent and legal said a University of Maryland employee on campus in a speech on how community and equity affect democracy.

Campbell F. Scribner, an assistant professor at the College of Education, said current segregation begins with “neighborhoods rooted in all-white or black schools” and communities.

The recent failed secession attempt by a primarily white city in Alabama to avoid falling under a public county school system that enforces a 1971 desegregation order, CNN reported, reiterates the issues this country faces regarding our sense of community and equity, Scribner added. 

After Brown v. Board of Education rendered race-designated schools and facilities inherently unequal, Scribner said students were bused to different areas for public education as there was a “firm commitment to racially segregated schools.”

However, Scribner noted, the concept of “forced busing” drew criticism from people regardless of race.

Tahirah Akbar-Williams, the event’s coordinator and a research support specialist in McKeldin Library, said that despite desegregation black people were fighting for “autonomy in the community about how schools are.”

Scribner emphasizes this point, mentioning the “value of community” and how people feel more comfortable in familiar spaces, meaning that sending students to different schools may not have been the most effective solution.

Scribner refers to community and equity as a “a democratic dilemma,” believing that people who remain within their own racial communities - more often than not due to socioeconomic status - may affect their access to resources by just living on the “wrong side of an imaginary line.”

“Funding for schools are dependent on neighborhoods,” said Akbar-Williams on how hierarchies in the education system disproportionately affect schools predominantly filled with students of color.

Scribner said despite earlier legislative attempts at desegregation on a national scale, “ultimately, education is a state responsibility.”

As part of Speaking of Books… Conversations with Campus Authors, which began in 2005,  faculty like Scribner talk about works they’ve published, according to Akbar-Williams.

Scribner said the speech did not cover “a quarter of the argument” detailed in his book: The Fight for Local Control: Schools, Suburbs, and American Democracy.