Equality victory after 26-year battle

10th October 2003 at 01:00
After a 26-year, $2bn (pound;1.26) court battle, Kansas City has achieved equality between black and white pupils and has won back control of its schools from federal courts.

Lawyer Arthur A Benson, who led black students' fight for equal schooling by launching a class-action case against Kansas City for failing to eliminate segregation, has dropped an appeal. He has accepted a judge's ruling that the district has eliminated the black-white achievement gap that existed when the case began.

"The district was always confident it had met its burden to close the achievement gap," said Kansas city superintendent of schools, Dr Bernard Taylor, who had applied for an end to court control of the education system last January.

But US district judge Dean Whipple warned that Kansas City "has a long distance to travel before it is a school district of which the citizens can be proud".

Mr Benson said the district had increased racial integration but that educational achievement remained unacceptably low for black and white students.

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