Equal Protection in Public Schools
Can public education provide equal protection to all students under Brown v. Board of Education while implementing ability grouping or track academic performance? Does classification of students between vocational, main stream, or college and career educational pursuits based on ability grouping contribute to segregation within the walls of the public school? By examining equal protection under the law, some historical background, and other legal issues pertaining to ability grouping and academic tracking a new form of segregation emerges within the public school systems.
Initially in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled the constitutionality of racially separate public schools permissible as long as the facilities were otherwise equivalent. As time progressed separate schools were progressively unequal which lead to Brown v. Board of Education which declared “separate yet equal” unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because such doctrine had not place in public education (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954). Since separate public school facilities were not equal in themselves lead to the desegregation of the public school system (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954). As the implementation of desegregation of public schools took effect a new form of segregation materialized within the school walls due to ability grouping or academic tracking.
Ability grouping or academic tracking sorts, students according to ability, aptitude, or academic performance into classifications like vocational, main stream, or college and career educational endeavors. By grouping students, according to these criteria a new form of segregation simil...
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...bility or aptitude and meeting federal mandates for compliance with Brown v. Board of Education positions public schools in a precarious situation. Classifying students based upon ability, academic performances, or aptitude seems logical because the students within the classification will have the same educational parameters to meet the demands of the course. However by classifying students a disproportion of ethnicity, race, or English language proficiency may occur resulting in a segregated classroom which the Department of Education has deemed unacceptable. Either a school district groups or tracks students according to ability, aptitude, or performance resulting in segregated classes or implement criteria to establish uniformity of the student population within classes like Honor or Advance Placemen which leaves student as pawns in a legal games of chess.
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