Richmond Home

Background and Resources

On May 21, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the U.S. District Court’s ruling (in Bradley v. School Board of Richmond, Va.) to consolidate the Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield school districts. Desegregation efforts proceeded absent suburban involvement, in a city school system already experiencing significant white and middle class flight to the surrounding counties.

Forty years later, white students make up roughly ten percent of Richmond Public Schools enrollment. Henrico County is a majority-minority school district and Chesterfield is rapidly approaching similar status. All three school divisions are experiencing rising levels of racial and economic school segregation along with persistent opportunity and achievement gaps.

At the same time, the outer-ring counties of Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa and New Kent are among the fastest growing U.S. exurbs in terms of white residents. In short, the geographic scope of the issues confronting the region in 1973 has expanded considerably, just as the costs of inaction have risen. These contemporary trends are the direct result of our failure to cooperate on a more regional scale in the past.

More than half a century of social science evidence continues to confirm the academic and social benefits for students of all races that flow from carefully structured, diverse learning environments. Another extensive body of research indicates that racially and economically isolated schools continue to be linked to a variety of factors—including fewer highly qualified teachers, high rates of teacher turnover, inadequate curricula, excessive discipline and low graduation rates—that negatively impact educational outcomes

Metro Richmond is now at a critical juncture. Decisions made in the next several years about how to provide equal educational opportunities within and across our jurisdictions will have enormous consequences for rising generations of students. The present moment offers both possibilities and challenges for districts in the region. Given these realities, examining best practices from other school systems and metropolitan areas that have already committed to advancing educational equity and excellence is not only common sense, it is imperative.

For Further Reading

Resegregation Trends

Boger, J., & Orfield, G. (Eds.) (2005). School resegregation: Must the South turn back? Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Frankenberg, E., & Orfield, G. (Eds.) (2012). The resegregation of suburban schools: A hidden crisis in American education. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

Orfield, G., & Eaton, S. (Eds.) (1996). Dismantling desegregation: The quiet reversal of Brown v. Board of Education. New York: New Press.

Orfield, G., & Lee, C. (2005). Why segregation matters. Cambridge: Civil Rights Project.

Benefits of Diversity and Harms of Segregation or Resegregation

Brief amicus curiae of 553 social scientists. Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007).

Linn, R. & Welner, K. (Eds.). (2007). Race-conscious policies for assigning students to schools: Social science research and the Supreme Court cases. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Education.

Eaton, S. (2001). The other Boston busing story: What’s won and lost across the boundary line. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Gandara, P., & Contreras, F. (2009). The Latino education crisis: The consequences of failed social policies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Kozol, J. (2005). The shame of the nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. New York: Crown.

Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. (2011). When groups meet: The dynamics of intergroup contact. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

Law, Policy and Leadership to Promote Integrated Schools

Frankenberg, E., & Debray, E. (Eds.) (2011). Integrating schools in a changing society: New policies and legal options for a multiracial generation. Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

Frankenberg, E., & Orfield, G. (Eds.) (2007). Lessons in integration. Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press.

Grant, G. (2009). Hope and despair in the American city: Why there are no bad schools in Raleigh. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press.

Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, & The Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles (2008). Preserving integration options for Latino students: A manual for educators, civil rights leaders, and the community. Los Angeles: Authors.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, & The Civil Rights Project, (2008). Still looking to the future: Voluntary K-12 school integration. Los Angeles: The Civil Rights Project.

Tefera, A., Frankenberg, E., Siegel-Hawley, G., & Chirichigno, G. (2011). Integrating suburban schools: How to benefit from growing diversity and avoid segregation. Los Angeles: Civil Rights Project.

Contact Us

Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
School of Education–Educational Leadership
(804) 828-1940

University of Richmond
Dr. Tom Shields
Center for Leadership in Education
(804) 289-8524