How Did Brown v. Board of Education Change Public Education?

The Brown v. Board of Education decision was a landmark moment in the fight for racial equality in America. But how did it change public education? We take a look.

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On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The Court ruled unanimously that segregated public schools were unconstitutional and violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The Brown decision paved the way for desegregation and the integration of public schools across the United States. In the years since Brown, school districts have taken a number of steps to desegregate their schools, including busing students to different schools, creating magnet programs, and redrawing school boundaries.

Despite these efforts, many schools remain segregated today. According to a 2017 report from The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, more than half of black and Latino students attend “intensely” segregated minority schools, where less than 10% of students are white. And while segregation has declined overall since the 1970s, it has actually increased in some areas in recent years.

The effects of school segregation are well documented. Studies have shown that segregated schools are often underfunded and have fewer resources than white schools. Segregated schools also tend to have higher teacher turnover rates and lower test scores. Students who attend segregated schools are more likely to drop out and less likely to go on to college.

So how did we get here? And what can be done to improve the situation? In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of school segregation in the United States and explore some of the challenges that educators face in trying to provide all students with an equal education.

The Plessy v. Ferguson Decision

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that “separate but equal” education was constitutional, a decision that effectively sanctioned racial segregation in public schools. This meant that black children and white children could not attend the same schools, use the same textbooks, or even have the same opportunities to learn.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 partly in response to the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. The NAACP decided to attack segregation by finding a test case to challenge “separate but equal” education in the courts. They believed that if they could prove that “separate but equal” was not actually equal, then they could get the Plessy decision overturned.

The Brown v. Board of Education Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) is one of the most consequential rulings in the Court’s history. The case overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine established by the Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which had permitted states to segregate public schools on the basis of race.

The Brown decision was a victory for African American plaintiffs who argued that segregated schools were inherently unequal and violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. The ruling also had a profound impact on public education in the United States, helping to spark a civil rights movement that would lead to further desegregation of schools and other public facilities throughout the country.

The Impact of Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education desegregated public schools in America. The decision overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine that had been established by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson. In its place, the Court ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

The decision shifted the emphasis in public education from an equal provision of services to an equal opportunity to learn. As a result, public schools began to focus on providing resources and programs that would allow all students to succeed, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Over time, the impact of Brown v. Board of Education has been far-reaching. It has helped to increase diversity in public schools and has provided opportunities for students of all backgrounds to get a quality education. The decision has also been credited with helping to end Jim Crow segregation laws and promoting civil rights for all Americans.


Since the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, public education has changed dramatically in the United States. The court’s ruling desegregated schools and opened up educational opportunities for all students, regardless of race. Today, public education is more diverse than ever before, and students of all backgrounds have equal access to quality education. This event was a turning point in American history that helped to create a more just and equitable society.

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