The politics of school desegregation: the case of Pittsburgh public schools, 1965-1980

Reed, Tracey A, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Scott, Charlotte H., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Burbach, Harold J., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
McClain, Paula D., Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia

The Brown v, the Board of Education (1954) (Brown I) decision initiated the legal imperative for states to consider racial desegregation of public schools. The legal imperative to desegregate set into motion local initiatives designed to alleviate or perpetuate racial segregation in the schools.

The activity of individual school boards regarding racial desegregation of the schools ranged between voluntary compliance and massive resistance. Perhaps the most well-known desegregation struggles occurred in the Southern states, i.e. Prince Edward Virginia and Little Rock, Arkansas, while some of the most dramatic in the nation occurred in the Northeast, i.e. Boston, Massachusetts. Northeastern states' compliance to school desegregation mandates evolved into voluntary desegregation options.

This study is a research investigation of the desegregation of the public schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, specifically, a case study of the Pittsburgh public school system, focusing on the activities of the city's school board. Covering the school system's transition from 1965 - 1980, data will reveal unique developments with respect to the school system's desegregation.

Federal government initiatives and policies designed to remedy school segregation in America provides a broader context by which to understand the study's focus. In addition, relevant court decisions, the political ecology of the city of Pittsburgh, and relevant special interest group activity augment the study's development. The conceptual framework borrows from the complementary work of John Kingdon's ideas about agenda setting (1984), Graham Allison's (1971) Governmental Politics model, William Dunn's (1994) Policy Analytic Frame, and David Easton's (1965) model of Systems Theory. Relevant literature on school board activity and the failure of school desegregation are among the dominant portions of the literature review. The investigation employs case study research methods, concentrating on conveying the complexity of the social phenomena being studied. Summary analysis concludes the study along with suggestions for future research.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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