Historically racism in school was permitted and acceptable after the Civil War when the Plessy vs Ferguson Trial ruled that segregated schools were still equal. The Plessy vs Ferguson case originated from Louisiana’s Separate Car Act of 1890 which required African Americans and whites to sit in segregated compartments in public carriers. Homer Adolph Plessy the plaintiff in the case believed that requiring racially segregated seating was unconstitutional. After the case continued to escalate until reaching the supreme court, the court found the act to not be in any way violating the constitution. This was a major contribution to racism because it established the “separate but equal” doctrine that allowed states to legally segregate the races, this included the segregation of schools. School segregation was designed to belittle these children to an inferior role in society and second-class citizenship.
Not only African Americans were segregated in school but Native American, Latino, and Asians were also required to attend black institutions. The institutions that were for minorities were very poorly funded. According to the Organization Of American Historians, “ these families often paid a “black tax” or a double tax because they had to pay local taxes and use their own funds to support their own underfunded black schools”. This meant that not only were the schools poorly funded but had an extra tax only in black communities. Black teachers also had multiple roles in schools besides being educators despite their lower salaries in comparison to white teachers. The curriculum policies were drastically different as the curriculum for minorities reflected only the jobs open to them. Schools taught these children agricultural and domestic jobs that would benefit the white economy as opposed to the white children that learned important math, English, and science skills to become successful doctors, lawyers, and business owners. Decades later in 1954 the United States Supreme court issued a turning point decision in the case Brown vs Board of Education.
The court ruled that racial segregation in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Many think that when Brown vs The Board of Education overruled Plessy vs Ferguson that separate was in fact not equal that school racism and segregation were over when in reality it was transformed into socioeconomic discrimination which evidently affects minorities and people of color. Today school funding policies continue to contribute to the discrimination and inequality of schools all around America. The policies for funding have been found to limit funds for schools within low-income communities. Many of these schools with a high concentration of minorities lack resources such as computers, textbooks, experienced teachers, laboratories, and curriculum. These policies leave minority students short of education compared to white communities and schools. Now the policies regarding curriculum also contribute to inequality because of the lower standards for schools within minorities, this essentially portrays that minorities can’t comprehend or be as intelligent as white high-income students.
Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University School of Education states that the curriculum “is not sufficient for the demands of modern life or for the new standards being proposed and enacted by states and national associations”. In all these different court cases and policies have drastically changed and have continued to contribute to institutional racism within schools.