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ERIC Number: EJ1087311
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0161-4681
The Shaping of Policy: Exploring the Context, Contradictions, and Contours of Privilege in "Milliken v. Bradley," over 40 Years Later
Green, Terrance L.; Gooden, Mark A.
Teachers College Record, v118 n3 2016
Background/Context: "Milliken v. Bradley" (1974) ("Milliken I") is a pivotal Supreme Court case that halted a metropolitan school desegregation remedy between Detroit and 53 surrounding suburban school districts. In a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, the "Milliken" ruling was a significant retraction from the landmark "Brown v. Board" (1954) ("Brown I") ruling that 20 years earlier deemed state imposed racially segregated schools unequal and unconstitutional. The effects of the "Milliken" decision neutralized school desegregation efforts in the United States, especially in the North. We, therefore, revisit the significance of "Milliken" over 40 years later. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the context and contradictions in "Milliken." In doing so, we review select federal school desegregation cases that informed the judicial and plaintiff's thinking in "Milliken," and provide an in-depth description of the city of Detroit and Detroit Public Schools, prior to and during "Milliken." We also analyze how the "Milliken" decision reinforced what we refer to as the "contours of privilege" as well as materialized property rights for white, suburban students and school districts at the expense of African American students in Detroit Public Schools. Research Design and Methods: A qualitative content analysis was employed for this study. Our analysis draws on a review of existing literature about "Milliken" beginning in 1970, policy documents, legal filings, and local newspaper articles on the case. We use critical race theory's whiteness as property to guide this analysis. Conclusion: The findings suggest that the Supreme Court protected white, suburban students' educational rights and interests in "Milliken." This was accomplished through the contours of privilege as reproduced in Milliken, which include acknowledging inequity but not disturbing racially inequitable systems, restricting black educational rights and perpetuating white privilege, and exercising the right to maintain dual educational systems. The study concludes with policy implications in light of "Milliken."
Teachers College, Columbia University. P.O. Box 103, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3774; Fax: 212-678-6619; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Brown v Board of Education; Milliken v Bradley
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A