Will High Court Ruling Work For Schools?

John Modest is a high school principal in Charlotte, N.C.
John Modest, a high school principal in Charlotte, N.C., talks to students.

Parents like Pamela Grundy watched as busing based on race came to an end in Charlotte, N.C., six years ago when something called "the choice plan" started.

"Under the choice plan, those who could put their children very quickly into suburban areas," Grundy told CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts. "Right away … bussing ended and there was a whole new system. Everybody was reassigned."

Meaning, families with "means" moved their children to well-performing schools and poorer families, mostly black and Latino, stayed where they were: crammed into low-performing schools where test scores have plummeted.

Educators like John Modest call it "the re-segregation of America's public schools."

But this time, it was segregation based on class.

"I think you saw some white flight and bright flight," said West Charlotte High School principal John Modest. "White flight and bright flight, where the black middle class folks were leaving, too, from the schools."

Forced school integration programs peaked in 1980. Since then it has dropped across the country. School districts in North Carolina, Nevada, Delaware and Wisconsin have seen the sharpest declines.

"We have been deemed a low-performing school by the state, but we're improving," Modest said.

In the 1970's, West Charlotte was a national model for school integration, even showing Boston public school students how integration can work. Back then, West Charlotte was nearly 40 percent black — 60 percent white.

Today, it is 88 percent black and just 1 percent white.

It happened in part because families like Lori Carter's moved their family to different neighborhoods with great schools.

"The concern in this part of town is overcrowding. The concern in the urban part of town is the needs that those students have," Carter said. "I think the whole idea of forcing integrated schools isn't necessarily going to increase or better the quality of education."

Remember Pam Grundy? Unlike other parents with means, she didn't move — and is keeping her child, Parker, in a predominately black school with modest test scores.

"We didn't want to be part of the problem, we wanted to be part of an effort to improve things for kids at that school," Grundy said. "We looked at it and said, 'this is a good school that needs some help and we think we can give it that help' so that's why we made that decision. And we wanted Parker to go to school in the real world."

And with Thursday's Supreme Court decision, a different world that looks a lot like the old one.