July 2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the Equality of Educational Opportunity Report, which was commissioned by Congress, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to assess the lack of equal educational opportunities for minority children throughout the country. The Report confirmed that the public schools attended by disadvantaged minority children in the early 1960s remained segregated by race more than a decade after the Supreme Court’s Brown decision mandated the breakup of the southern states’ dual school system. However, the Report also raised questions about the family’s influence on children’s school performance; and in measuring the importance of families versus schools, it found in favor of the family. This conclusion reframed the debate about how to best pursue the goal of furthering equal educational opportunity. The Report inspired decades of research on school effects, on the impact of socioeconomic status on achievement, and on racial and ethnic disparities in academic achievement.
For an upcoming issue of the RSF online journal, sociologists Karl Alexander and Stephen Morgan will organize a symposium featuring fourteen invited articles that examine the Report’s methods and its substantive conclusions through the lens of advances over the past half century across several social science disciplines. Papers will examine issues such as school climate and comprehensive school reform, racial segregation, and educational standards and assessments, among others. Alexander and Morgan will serve as the guest editors for this issue.