In a recent 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that integration programs that used race to determine school assignments in Seattle and Jefferson County, Kentucky were unconstitutional. Both cities had been sued for having segregated school systems, so the school boards implemented integration plans that sought to maintain school-by-school diversity by limiting transfers on the basis of race or using race as a “tiebreaker” for admission to particular schools. Both programs are similar to plans in place in hundreds of school districts around the country.
The Kentucky case, Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education , was filed by the mother of a student who was denied a transfer to his chosen kindergarten class because the school he wanted to leave needed to keep its white students in order to stay within the program’s racial guidelines. The Seattle case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 , was filed by a group of parents who had formed a nonprofit corporation to fight the city’s high school assignment plan.
Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the decision, writing that schools should use factors other than race to achieve racial inclusion and that there is no longer a “compelling state interest” that justifies the use of race for school assignment. He went on to say that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” What impact will this ruling have? How will this decision affect other state and local efforts to fight resegregation?
Was the Court’s decision consistent with Brown v. Board of Education, the 14th Amendment and the Court’s many other decisionsregarding race? Are school desegregation programs that use race to determine placement unfairly discriminatory against white children? Should parents’ right to choose the best education for their child be trumped by efforts to create diverse educational settings? Does the public believe there is educational value in diverse school settings? If society stops adopting policies that recognize race, will racism end?
Join us this week at Café Society to tell us if you think should school integration programs consider race.
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For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.