The 1954 Social Science Statement and School Desegregation

A Reply to Gerard
  • Stuart W. Cook
Part of the Perspectives in Social Psychology book series (PSPS)


In his article “School Desegregation: The Social Science Role” (see Chapter 11), Harold Gerard deplores the quality of the Social Science Statement submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court at the time of its historic 1954 decision to desegregate the schools. He characterizes the statement as quixotic, myopically focused, short-sighted, unsophisticated, and based on well-meaning rhetoric rather than research. In view of the fact that the statement was presented to the Court as a review of the available research evidence and cited more than 40 publications of social scientists and educators, this characterization appears to question either the professional qualifications or the ethical standards of those who prepared and signed it. Gerard describes his own “realism” about school desegregation, developed in part, he indicates, as a consequence of the disappointing results of his case study of desegregation in the Riverside, California, elementary schools (Gerard & Miller, 1975). By overgeneralizing his own results and failing to take account of the results of many similar studies, he presents a misleading picture of the research outcomes on school desegregation and the complexities of interpreting them. He concludes his chapter by urging that social science not repeat the mistake of “entering the political arena prematurely,” as he feels it did in the case of school desegregation.


Black Student White Student School Achievement Black Child Race Relation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart W. Cook
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Institute for Behavioral ScienceUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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