Sixty-five years have passed since the momentous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ended racially segregated school systems, with Justice Earl Warren writing that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Now, well into the twenty-first century, how much have things changed in America’s schools?
While the tenor of education inequities have evolved from outright segregation in public schools to subtler discriminations—higher rates of suspensions for black students and gifted-and-talented programs that predominantly cater to white students—the tune is much the same. And in higher education, the returns on a college degree for African Americans fall well shy of equivalent returns for other racial groups, while simultaneously the rapid growth of for-profit colleges entails a disproportionate enrollment of desperate, indebted African Americans. Taken altogether, the simple question of who does well in school—as well as who gets the chance to do well in school, at each level—continues to be pertinent, and it is a frequent area of inquiry for Cook Center researchers.
Furthermore, the Cook Center also works with Duke undergraduate and graduate students in vertically integrated research teams, with the aim of creating pipeline of scholars from Duke and other institutions to work on issues of social inequality. The application process is open to postdoctoral fellows who are able to spend up to two years as researchers at the Cook Center. Students can also enroll in the Center’s semester-long seminars as part of the Global Inequality Research Initiative (GIRI). The objective of the seminar is to create a setting where students can generate research papers of a high enough quality that they can be published in professional journals.
The Center also hosts Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE), a research mentoring program that facilitates successful transition from junior faculty status to tenured associate professor for economists from underrepresented groups (especially blacks, Latinos and Native Americans).