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After the Supreme Court's decision, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), segregated schools eventually responded to court orders to desegregate; yet, in the 1990s racial isolation remained, and standardized tests revealed an achievement gap between minority and white students. Case studies in Wilmington (Delaware), Prince George's County (Maryland), San Diego, Cleveland, and elsewhere and national studies on the achievement gap reflect the judicial system's inability to effect the reform envisioned in Brown. Judicial action spurred public recognition of the incompatibility between state-sponsored segregation and justice and equality, but only grassroots political pressure can produce equitable, high-quality public school systems.

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