School Segregation: Ferguson’s Tragic Story

The Normandy school district from which Brown graduated is among the poorest and most segregated in Missouri. It ranks last in overall academic performance. Its rating on an annual state assessment was so dismal that by the time Brown graduated the district had lost its accreditation.


In mid-December, ProPublica (in collaboration with the NY Times that printed a shorter version) published Nikole Hannah-Jones’ well-researched history of racial segregation in the St. Louis suburban school districts that include Ferguson, Missouri. The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson last summer brought the public’s attention, once again, to the many ways that racial injustice is structured into our society’s core institutions.

In the fall, this blog highlighted Richard Rothstein’s fine piece in The American Prospect (with a more detailed version published by the Economic Policy Institute) about many of the ways public policies have shaped the lives of the black residents of suburban St. Louis: “St. Louis was segregated by interlocking and racially explicit public policies of zoning, public housing, and suburban finance, and by publicly endorsed segregation policies of realty, banking, and insurance industries.  These government policies interacted with public labor market policies that denied African…

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