Desegregation: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, a case study of the Yonkers Public Schools

Michael Vincent Yazurlo, Fordham University


The purpose of this study is to provide an historical analysis of desegregation in Yonkers. It also examines past desegregation issues and decisions as they apply to and affect the Yonkers Public Schools. This study develops a chronological review of the process undertaken in Yonkers to desegregate its schools. In the future, this process may proved helpful to other desegregating districts. Interviews, official documents, district records, and participant observations are employed in this study. The methodology uses both historical and case study approaches. In the first phase of this study a description of geographical and historical events which shaped the city of Yonkers are presented to develop an understanding of how segregation occurred through natural geographic and man-made conditions. A brief description of housing patterns which were developed through city, state, and federal programs are also outlined. The organization of the Yonkers schools, their growth and development are examined to provide information which substantiate the charges of segregative practices. Statistics regarding overall student enrollment, enrollment by race, and staff assignments to particular schools all contributed to the understanding of the Yonkers schools' liability for segregative practices. The second part of this study presents a detailed description of the Yonkers desegregation effort. Selection of programs for magnet schools, staff development, human relations, and community relations is dealt with in detail. Included is an examination of the work of various social scientists whose work was influential in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling Brown v. Board of Education. The final section of this study presents the progress and results of the first three years of Yonkers desegregation efforts. This study concludes that the social engineering of the federal government and the courts has had little, if any, impact on the "quality" of education. There have been no significant gains or losses in academic achievement as a result of desegregation. The Yonkers public school system may be commended for its effort and progress in light of the political and racial unrest which continues to exist in the city, and for the gains it has made in a relatively short period of time. However, the changes in policy and programs have been safe, tried and true by other districts, successful in complying with court ordered desegregation. The moment most certainly has to be one of experimentation and evaluation, not a time for massive use of simplistic solutions. These are the best conclusions that can be reached at this time while calling attention to the increasingly well recognized harm of maintaining the status quo.

Subject Area

School administration|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Urban planning|Area planning & development

Recommended Citation

Yazurlo, Michael Vincent, "Desegregation: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, a case study of the Yonkers Public Schools" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109275.