Twenty years ago, on April 27, 1989, a group of parents and children from Hartford and West Hartford filed a complaint in the Hartford Superior Court challenging Connecticut’s role in the continuing racial and economic isolation of schools in Hartford and the resulting inequality in educational resources and student outcomes.
Today, more than a decade after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the separate and unequal educational system in the Hartford region violates the state constitution, the ongoing Sheff v. O’Neill case is a leading national example of successful voluntary integration, with a network of 24 regional magnet schools and a growing suburban transfer program. This year, some 16% of Hartford minority school children are attending schools that are at or near the desegregation standard under a 2008 court-ordered agreement. Next year, the number will climb to 24%, and will continue to rise as long as there are still Hartford children on the waitlist for racially and economically integrated schools.
To mark this significant 20th anniversary, the Sheff Movement coalition is sponsoring and hosting an event at the University of Connecticut Law School to revisit some of the key research that continues to support the importance of K-12 school diversity. Dr. Susan Eaton, research director with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, will give a talk on “New Research on the Benefits of K-12 School Diversity.” We also welcome John Brittain, former counsel on the Sheff case, now General Counsel to the national Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Following the educational program, there will be a reception next door in the Reading Room to celebrate 20 years of struggle – and join Elizabeth Horton Sheff in toasting the continuing and future success of the case in bringing quality, integrated education to students in Hartford and throughout the region.
Sheff Movement coalition
UConn Black Law Students Association
UConn Latino Law Students Association
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice