Patterico's Pontifications


“That’s Very Odd”

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Education — DRJ @ 2:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Recent Supreme Court opinions have made it clear that public schools shouldn’t consider race and yet, in an ironic twist, many school districts still struggle under decades-old federal desegregation orders that require just that:

“Officials in Shelby County, Tenn., complain they’ll have to spend millions to satisfy a federal judge’s “arbitrary” desegregation order. It’ll mean busing minority students up to an hour away and replacing hundreds of white teachers with black ones, they say.

In Huntsville, Ala., under a similar court order, students can transfer from a school where they’re in the racial majority, but not the other way around.

And in the Tucson, Ariz., Unified School District, students could move from one school to another only if the change improved “the ethnic balance of the receiving school and (did) not further imbalance the ethnic makeup of the home school.”

But wait: Hasn’t the U.S. Supreme Court consistently moved away from using race as a factor in deciding where kids should go to school? Didn’t the high court recently put an exclamation point on that trend, ruling that two districts’ heavy reliance on race in student assignment policies violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection?

Yes, and yes. But there are still hundreds of districts across the country, from the Northeast to the Southwest, that operate under federal court desegregation orders—some more than four decades old.”

Not only does Ruth Bader Ginsburg realize there are inconsistencies in the Supreme Court’s recent opinions on race and its prior desegregation rulings, but (perhaps for the first and only time) I agree with her conclusion:

“The question of these districts came up this past year as the Supreme Court heard arguments involving voluntary diversity plans in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. In June, the court ruled that student assignment policies in those two districts relied too heavily on individual students’ races and, so, were unconstitutional. But in those two districts there were no orders to remedy past state-sponsored segregation.

On the other hand, districts operating under integration orders may set policies that explicitly consider race. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged the “anomaly” of demanding that such districts work diligently toward racial integration, but once it’s achieved mandating that race be ignored.

“What’s constitutionally required one day gets constitutionally prohibited the next day,” she said. “That’s very odd.”

My town’s schools were put under a desegregation plan over 40 years ago and it was just released from that order in recent years. We successfully desegregated in one generation and that’s a good thing, but courts shouldn’t be in the business of running school districts for decades.

At this point, if desegregation hasn’t worked in some communities then it’s time to try something else.


6 Responses to ““That’s Very Odd””

  1. A federal court order in 1976 forced the Wilmington, Delaware school district to be incorporated into the surrounding New Castle County school district, and that students be bussed to achieve racial balance. A couple of different plans were tried, but the basic effect was to destroy the public school system in New Castle County, and anyone who can in any way afford to send their children to private schools does so. Delaware has teh highest rate of private school attendance of any state, 32% last time I looked (2002), and the vast majority of that is due to New Castle County.

    The county is now divided into four pie-shaped districts, each encompassing part of the city and spreading into the suburbs — and there is not a single public high school in the city of Wilmington itself. Blacks from the city are trucked out to suburban high schools, while white middle schoolers are bussed into the city.

    NCCo supports at least four diocesian Catholic high schools; when we moved away (2002), tuition at the diocesian high schools was about $7,000 a year, and they were all full and had waiting lists to get in. In addition, there were at least three non-diocesian Catholic high schools, where the tuition was $12,000 a year. On top of that were several private schools not connected with the Catholic Church; one of my friends there went to a Baptist school.

    The middle school my daughters attended, Corpus Christi, was packed to the rafters, with 32 students per class, and there was a waiting list to get in.

    And what did the bussing order actually achieve? Demographically, Wilmington is 36.6% white, but the News Journal reported in 2001 or 2002 that a proposal to have a single school district for the city would result in a district that was 78% black, 13% Hispanic, and just 9% white and Asian. (Sorry that I don’t have a precise source link, but I remember the figures very well.)

    And while the city is heavily black, the suburbs are very much less so. Hockessin, the unincorporated area in which I lived was only six miles from the city but as lily-white as Vermont. I grew up in the South, but New Castle County was absolutely the most segregated area in which I’ve ever lived.

    Dana (c36902)

  2. maybe it should be deducted from that judges pay checks like maybe 50% of it

    krazy kagu (376605)

  3. Chicago Public Schools have desegregated so well that while Chicago’s white population is about 50%, CPS’s white student population is about 8%. And that 8% is in magnet and charter schools. If it weren’t, it would be in private, parochial and suburban schools like the rest. (Even if you don’t live in a suburban school district, you can pay to go there if it has a seat for you.)

    nk (09a321)

  4. Isn’t it time for the progressives out there to admit putting a white and a black next to each other doesn’t result in the rubbing off of intelligence, ambition or merit. If this were true the progressives like Hildabeast wouldn’t have avoided public schools like the plague nor would all those federal judges.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  5. Busing in black teachers too?

    I’m sorry, but with affirmative action, and with what we know about the bell curve, I want teachers with the highest qualifications, not with the skin color de Jeur (sp). Start filling my kid’s school up with ebonics speakers, and I will homeschool. Of course, if Walter Williams could teach my kid economics, I’d thank my lucky stars.

    Smarty (7a2278)

  6. Look, some of us realize that blacks in large numbers in schools means lower performance and higher crime. All they are forcing is for whites who care to take their kids out of public school.

    Smarty (7a2278)

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