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Learning to Live Together

Writing in The Huffington Post, Dean James Ryan focuses on the connection between learning together and living together.

The following article, written by Dean James Ryan, appeared on The Huffington Post on September 5, 2014.

"Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever begin to live together." Justice Thurgood Marshall penned these words 40 years ago, as part of his stirring and prophetic dissent in Milliken v. Bradley. In Milliken, a 5-4 majority of the United States Supreme Court virtually prohibited bussing across school district lines to desegregate metropolitan areas, which in many ways marked the Court's -- and the country's -- turn away from efforts to integrate schools.

As we head into another school year, and especially in light of recent events, it is worth pausing to consider Marshall's warning. The tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, seems sad proof of Marshall's point about the connection between learning and living together. The police officer, Darren Wilson, like most white students in this country, attended a high school that was almost entirely white. Michael Brown attended a school that was almost entirely black. Much more, of course, was involved in the shooting than the racial composition of the schools attended by Wilson and Brown, but it is hard to shake the feeling that a lack of contact and understanding -- outside of confrontations -- between white police officers and black citizens lies at the heart of this and too many other tragic encounters. One important place where productive encounters could occur is within schools, but for the last 40 years, white and black students learning alongside one another has been the exception rather than the rule.

Continue reading at The Huffington Post.