New Article: “From Massive Resistance to Quiet Evasion: The Struggle for Educational Equity and Integration in Virginia”

New Article: Juliet Buesing Clark, From Massive Resistance to Quiet Evasion: The Struggle for Educational Equity and Integration in Virginia, 107 Va. L. Rev. 1115 (2021). Abstract below:

This fifty-year retrospective on Virginia’s 1971 constitutional revision argues that state constitutional language has both the power and promise to effect policy change in the area of educational equity.

In the years after Brown, Virginia dramatically resisted efforts to integrate. Then the Commonwealth embraced a moderate stance on integration, as part of its 1971 constitutional revision, to end de jure segregation and provide a “quality” education for “all children.” Looking to new quality standards produced by a Board of educational experts, Virginia optimistically turned to the technocracy movement, hoping to take education out of politics. New aspirational language was meant to deepen the legislature’s commitment to public schools and repair Massive Resistance’s damage to public schools.

Looking back fifty years later, however, it is clear that this constitutional revision, while successfully meeting its goals around Massive Resistance, did not address underlying problems it is often assumed to have solved, such as inadequate funding or persistent de facto segregation. Other states’ journeys battling the same issues have looked different, and these differences highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of Virginia’s approach.

This Note ultimately argues that the 1971 constitutional revision never intended to solve these problems, and thus, the work for educational advocates right now is not to come up with more clever litigation, but to convince Virginians to agree on a fairer school system—perhaps through a new constitutional revision. In the context of new public concern about racial justice following George Floyd’s death and the Coronavirus crisis, I argue that Virginia today may finally be ready to finish the work started in 1971.

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