Desegregating the schools: Four policy studies and their meaning for Hartford, Connecticut

Date of Completion

January 1993


Education, Administration




This is a study of desegregation and quality education, issues of increasing concern in Hartford, Connecticut. The population of the city has become increasingly minority (non-white and Hispanic), while the surrounding towns, for the most part, have significantly smaller minority enrollments. Therefore, neither the central city, nor the majority of its suburbs, is able to offer its schoolchildren the benefit of a quality, integrated education within its own boundaries.^ Policy science reinforces conventional wisdom that studying the experiences of others will more certainly assure success in making important choices. As Hartford appears likely to engage in some desegregation efforts, whether by court order, instigation by the governor, and/or legislative action, there is benefit to studying other cities which share similarities of population and circumstances and which have experienced desegregation efforts.^ The purpose of this study is to create a projective analysis of desegregation for the City of Hartford by examining through case studies four communities found sufficiently similar to Hartford to justify comparison. These communities are: Dayton, Ohio; Rochester, New York; Trenton, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware.^ A review of the literature includes a compendium of the legal cases related to school desegregation beginning with Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 and continuing to the present. Descriptions and analysis of the writings on school desegregation include the diverse methods in favor at various times such as voluntary and mandatory busing, schools of choice and controlled choice, magnet schools, and metropolitan regionalization.^ The study finds that rapidly shifting populations make projections somewhat risky. However, respecting certain widely held concerns will make successful desegregation more likely. Parents seek a safe environment for their children and want to have an influence in where those children are educated. Committed and charismatic leadership, extensive community participation, the availability of enhanced educational components to guarantee a high quality of education, cooperative city-state relations, and a metropolitan region large enough to discourage white flight are qualities likely to encourage positive results. ^