Statistics Go to School and Then to Court


As John Tukey said, “Statisticians get to play in everyone’s backyard.” That includes involvement in vexing issues such as the right to a quality education and how to achieve it.

What is often cited as the first reliance on social science research—rife with quantitative and qualitative data—is the seminal Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which overturned the principle established by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that “separate but equal” facilities are all that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection requires. Remarkable to many is the compactness and clarity of the decision (only 12 pages), due in part to Chief Justice Warren’s successful effort to render it unanimous.

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