Iowa City just joined a growing number of school districts in trying to promote student academic achievement by giving all pupils a chance to attend good, economically diverse schools. The policy is a big step forward, as it is backed by a half-century of research suggesting that students do much better when they attend schools with a mix of middle-class and low-income students as opposed to schools with high concentrations of poverty. But the good news was tempered by a potential legal cloud imposed by the Obama administration’s Agriculture Department.
In 2007, a court case filed in Louisville, Ky. was argued before the Supreme Court. The decision changed how American schools handle race and undermined the most important civil rights cases of the last century. In "Divided We Fail: The Story of an African-American Community that Ended the Era of School Desegregation," journalist Sarah Garland returns to Louisville, her hometown, to understand why black families in the most racially integrated school system in America led the charge against desegregation. Here's an excerpt.