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Separate is Not Equal or Successful

Are the Lessons from Brown v Board of Education Being Lost?

Million-dollar NEPC initiative funded by the Ford Foundation is designed to put high-quality research about racial diversity and student success in the hands of parents, educators and policy makers.


Jamie Horwitz

Kevin Welner
(303) 492-8370

BOULDER, CO (September 28, 2011) Most parents want their children to attend schools with a diverse student population, according to opinion surveys.  Unfortunately, schools with diverse student bodies are hard to find.  Although the overall student population is more diverse than ever, school districts are more segregated today than they were 30 years ago.  Caught between parental desire for student diversity and the reality of increasingly segregated schools, policy makers need information and evidence about how frame wise policy.  A new initiative launched today and housed at the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center (NEPC) will provide policy makers, educators, parents, and the general public with the kind of high-quality, research-based information they need to effectively promote school diversity and student achievement.

Designed to foster collaboration between researchers, practitioners, policy makers and the public, the Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Learning (IDEAL) will serve as a clearinghouse for ideas from across the country related to school diversity and student achievement, explaining existing research and developing new research and ideas.  IDEAL‘s website ( will allow parents, students, educators and the general public to learn and share ideas about practical, evidence-based ways to increase diversity and success in classrooms and schools.  IDEAL is funded through a million-dollar grant from the Ford Foundation.

“In the 21st Century, boosting achievement and diverse schools go hand in hand,” said IDEAL Director and University of Colorado Professor Kevin G. Welner. “We have lots of choices and options for how to accomplish this. But continuing the trend toward resegregation cannot be among them.”

“The past couple of decades of failed school reform have taught us an important lesson,” says Welner.  “We cannot afford today to pretend that separate education is equal, any more than we could afford that pretense in 1954.  The nation will take a big step forward when policy makers understand the positive impact of diversity on academic achievement and embrace integrated schools and classrooms that bring together students from different racial and economic backgrounds.  We intend for IDEAL to help achieve that progress.”

On October 5th, IDEAL will release the first of four major reports that explore how existing policies can be improved so that they promote equity and diversity and foster academic achievement.  The first study focuses on the impact of school discipline policies and practices.  The report, authored by Daniel Losen of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, will describe concrete ways for the nation’s district’s to exercise more effective and fair approaches to school discipline.

Separately, the NEPC is releasing model statutory code language to implement the recommendations from the discipline study; the preparation of this separate document is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Educational Research and Practice, which, along with the Ford Foundation, is helping to fund the report.

Future reports in this IDEAL series will focus on teacher incentives, school choice, and data-driven accountability and school reform.

The mission of the Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Learning is to promote educational opportunities and school success for all students by fostering collaborative relationships and strategically communicating high-quality research evidence on equity, diversity, and school achievement to policy makers, educators, the media, and the general public. For more information on IDEAL, please visit

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on NEPC, please visit