Monday, June 05, 2006

Assignment to Schools Based On Race

I am amazed to learn that even today, in 2006, race is still being taken into account when determining which school some students get to attend.

The linked article provides an extremely short but applicable history:

The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka outlawed racially separate public schools. While ushering in a wave of laws ensuring full integration in public facilities, the Brown ruling also prompted backlash in many communities. Forced busing and an exodus of white students into private schools were part of the fallout in subsequent years.

Busing. Freakin' busing. Doesn't anyone remember that debacle anymore? How can we still be on that road, all these years later?

I'll tell you why. There's an entire industry (not to mention political movement) devoted to ensuring that the phrase "without regard to race", so prevalent in the Civil Rights Era legislation, never takes effect. There's a lot of money and power at stake in keeping the races divided.

Update, 6/11/06 12:03 pm: John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left) has a lengthy post on this topic, and also brings up the busing issue. Apparently, great minds think alike. Here are some excerpts:

The WaPo is concerned, properly, with students “learning about life in a multiethnic society,” with helping “children of diverse backgrounds learn to live, play and eventually work together.” Unfortunately, however, its preferred lesson plan is not only outmoded but offensive. The lesson our schools should be teaching is that race should never be weighed — even as a hypothetical “tiebreaker” — on the scales of any government decision, because race should never be allowed to count for or against any person for any opportunity in our society...

The argument here, to repeat, is that racial preferences that neither derive from nor contribute to racial stigma and that do not “seek to give one racial group an edge over another” are acceptable. And, still repeating, I continue to find this argument troubling. For one thing, it substitutes harm to a “racial group” over the traditional, and much more appealing, standard of harm to the individual. (emphasis mine--Darren)

Consider, for example, this hypothetical: what if the federal government or a city, in the interest of governmental economy and efficiency, decided that rather than close down government altogether on certain holidays that it would institute a policy of “race-conscious holidays.” Under this policy, blacks would be excused from work only on Martin Luther King’s birthday, whites only on Presidents’ Day, and Asians and Hispanics only on newly created ethnic holidays. In order to avoid the appearance of hard racial classification, employees would be allowed to substitute one of the “other” holidays for their own racially designated one if they chose.

Would this pass the proposed no stigma/no “racial group” harm test? Or, as I’ve suggested here before, what if our immigration policy were revised to eliminate or severely restrict the number of visas awarded to Hispanics because they are “overrepresented” in our immigrant population?

1 comment:

EllenK said...

As I see it, the courts will probably demand that a court implemented and controlled plan be put into place. This isn't all that different than what happened in many southern schools such as Dallas ISD during the Sixties and Seventies. Sadly, by forcing all students to move to balance the populations based solely on race, parents who didn't want their kids bused to a worse or even dangerous school when they had worked to move into an attendance zone with a good school, pulled their kids out. This happened pretty much regardless of race but more often based on socio-economic levels. Can you imagine how angry minority parents were when they had worked to get good jobs, buy good homes and provide a safe education for their children only to have their kids sent back to the bad, old neighborhood? While our educational institutions should be colorblind, they are not. Look at financial aid, look at college admissions, look at subsidies for special populations. Are their commeasurate returns on these investments educationally? Many of the Dallas schools that have had the most input of money and resources are the lowest performing. That is frequently mirrored in urban settings across the nation. So the key isn't racial balance, it's socio-economic balance. That is probably best achieved by offering specialty, magnet programs and making schools smaller and safer at the secondary levels. Just my opinions, but the courts will instead work with just numbers and those districts will be burdened with decades of decay.