Desegregation and the Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court is hearing what is considered to be their 5th big case since Chief Justice John Roberts took the bench. The question being considered is whether or not the need for diversity can justify school districts using race as a factor in assigning schools for students.

Background

The goal, for more than 400 school districts out of the nation’s 15,000 public schools, is to make the racial make up of a school roughly the same as a district’s population. Affirmative action advocates say that the laws are critical to keeping our educational system fair to all students. The fear is that if students went to their local school, schools would segregate along neighborhood lines and that would leave many students in a district attending schools that are perceived “failing.” Those who are against the desegregation policies based on race as a factor say that it alienates children and denigrates a students’ self-worth by color coding them throughout their entire school experience.

While the Supreme court has traditionally upheld desegregation laws and sided with schools, the Bush administration generally backs parents against the desegregation laws.

What desegregation Laws Do

Desegregation laws do not achieve their goal of an equal education for all. They do achieve racial diversity but this does not improve schools. Race, in my opinion, does not influence one’s success in education. However, culture, parental involvement and economics have certainly been linked in numerous research studies to academic success of students.

Since schools are not academically improved by desegregation, it means that some students have to go to “the worst” school. I know that many advocates say you have to look at the big picture. . .but I wonder how they’d feel if it was their child being sent to a school with less than ideal academics.

An Antiquated Idea

I have to be honest here and say that I’m not entirely sure what is so great about diversity if it is not improving some aspect of education. Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for diversity. I love that my kids have the opportunity to grow up in an ethnically rich neighborhood. What I’m not for is weighting the educational system down with laws that are ineffective. If school districts truly want to make public education “fair” for all, they need to “desegregate” using factors that are actually known to be linked with academics. Race, as I’ve already mentioned, is not one of those factors.

Despite it’s ineffectiveness on improving academics in schools that are considered “below“ par, the law of the land really does support the right of the school system over the parents in these situations. Perhaps with this case going to the supreme court that will change and parents will be able to have some sort of say in where their child goes to school.

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