THIS JUST IN: After Fighting It For 40 Years, Philadelphia Agrees To Desegregate Schools


INQUIRER: Nearly 40 years after the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission went to court seeking equal education for white and minority students in the city, the Philadelphia School District is poised to settle the landmark desegregation case by instituting reforms to benefit black and Hispanic children.

The settlement would have broad implications, not only for students but for teachers. Regardless of their union contract, many could see significant changes in where they work, how much they are paid, and how they are evaluated. The School Reform Commission yesterday unanimously endorsed the agreement with the state commission, which filed the lawsuit against the district in Commonwealth Court in 1970.

Initially, the suit sought to force the district to bus students around the city to ensure racial balance in schools. At the time, 70 percent of the schools were considered racially isolated, meaning that at least 90 percent of students were of one race. That situation has hardly improved. The district said it could not provide current data yesterday, but in 2004, an Inquirer analysis found that two-thirds of city schools were racially isolated. Today, about 61 percent of the district’s 167,000 students are African American; 18 percent are Latino; 13 percent white; and 6 percent Asian. MORE

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