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BPEA Article

Race and School Quality Since Brown v. Board of Education

Alan B. Krueger, Michael A. Boozer and Shari Wolkon

Abstract

THE HISTORY OF RACE and school quality in the United States in the past hundred years has not been one of constant, unyielding progress for black students relative to white students. Broadly speaking, between 1890 and 1910 the quality of schools attended by black students declined relative to those attended by white students, as judged by expenditures per student, average class size, and the length of the school term. Between 1915 and 1925 black students made moderate progress relative to white students, but the progress stalled between 1925 and the Great Depression. From the mid-1930s to the 1950s, the racial gap in school quality declined dramatically. Unfortunately, recent trends in racial differences in school quality are not nearly as well documented or well understood as those in the period from 1880 to 1950.

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