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Public Statements

Brown v. Board of Education

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


EXPRESSING SENSE OF CONGRESS THAT ALL AMERICANS OBSERVE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION WITH A COMMITMENT TO CONTINUING AND BUILDING ON THE LEGACY OF BROWN -- (House of Representatives - May 13, 2004)

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to explain my objection to H. Con. Res. 414, the resolution commending the anniversary of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education and related cases. While I certainly agree with the expression of abhorrence at the very idea of forced segregation I cannot, without reservation, simply support the content in the resolution.

The "whereas clauses" of this resolution venture far beyond the basis of Brown and praise various federal legislative acts such as the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This final Act was particularly pernicious because it was not applied across the board, but targeted only at certain areas of the country. As such, it violates the spirit of the very equal protection it claims to promote. Moreover, we certainly should ask what constitutional authority lies behind the passage of such legislation.

The history of racism, segregation and inferior facilities that led to Brown cannot be ignored, and should not pass from our condemnation. Still, thinking people must consider the old adage that "two wrongs do not make a right." Simply, the affects of Brown have been, at best, mixed. As this anniversary has approached there have been a large number of events and articles in the media to celebrate the decision and analyze its impact. Most people, regardless of their opinion of the decision, seem to be aware that it has not achieved its goals.

In many places in our country the public school system continues to fail many American children, particularly those in the inner city. Research shows that our schools are more segregated than at any point from the 1960s. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the affects of the Brown decision. Do we really mean to celebrate the failures of forced busing? Forced integration largely led to white flight from the cities, thus making society even more segregated. Where children used to go to different schools but meet each other at the little league field, after Brown these people would now live in different cities or different counties. Thus, forced integration led only to even more segregation. A recent Washington Post article about McKinley High School makes this very point. Worse still, prior to this re-segregation racial violence was often prevalent.
We need also to think about whether sacrificing quality education on the altar of equality is not a terrible mistake, especially as it applies to the opportunities available to those who are historically and economically disadvantaged. For example, research has shown that separating children on the basis of gender enhances academic performance. Attempts to have such schools have been struck down by the courts on the basis of Brown. Just last night Fox News reported the academic successes at schools separating children based on gender, as approved by this body is the so-called "No Child Left Behind Act." Yet the National Organization of Women continues to oppose this policy on the basis of Brown's "separate is inherently not equal" edict, despite the statistically evident positive impact this policy has had on the achievement of female students in mathematics and science classes.

Mr. Speaker, in short forced integration and enforced equality are inimical to liberty; while they may be less abhorrent than forced segregation they are nonetheless as likely to lead to resentment and are demonstrably as unworkable and hence ineffective.

While I completely celebrate the end of forced segregation that Brown helped to bring about, I cannot unreservedly support this resolution as currently worded.

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