At the behest of the Reagan administration, Congress converts the Emergency School Aid Act of 1972, which provided schools with $149 million for desegregation programs, into a block grant program for education generally. This effectively cuts off the only substantial source of federal funding for desegregation remedies. This is the largest of the many federal spending programs slashed in the first months of the Reagan Administration. However, the provision that earmarks funds for magnet schools is later restored in June of 1984.

Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Bradford Reynolds tells a congressional committee that "compulsory busing of students in order to achieve racial balance in the public schools is not an acceptable remedy." Throughout the Reagan Administration, Reynolds makes speeches emphasizing that blacks would be better off in de facto, segregated, neighborhood schools than in integrated, non-neighborhood schools. He also speaks out repeatedly against affirmative action, arguing that colorblindness was the basic principle of the Civil Rights Movement.

Los Angeles becomes the first major city to abandon desegregation and to return to neighborhood schools. Between 1979 and 1993, the city receives over three billion dollars in federal and state aid to equalize resources and opportunities in minority schools.

Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman Supreme Court Justice.