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“Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts”

Post Article by Robert Barnes

 

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I sent this article to my mother (a school teacher for 30+ years) regarding the recent court cases ruled upon by the Supreme court regarding race and school…possibly one of the biggest race decisions in the Post-Brown era. The following represents our email chain/debate (mom is in italics):

okay, and how will this impact african americans? bussing was created to promote equality initially.

Well there are a couple of arguments:

The first argument is in line with the ruling of the courts wherein (not unlike my own situation with Cherokee Lane vs Ridgecrest) students (in this case a white student) wanted to go to the school right next to his home but was forced to ride a bus for 3 hours (ENTIRELY TOO LONG) to another school because of racial desegregation in the school district.

The second argument is that without redrawing the school district to bus students schools will go back to being predominantly white or black because it is most common for people of the same race to live in the same neighborhoods. Some argue this is because of comfort levels and it being a preferred choice but I’ve read several books that detail the extensive history of racial discrimination when it comes to homebuyers. Although there are laws now in place to protect against that, these laws are 1.) relatively new and 2.) are still to this day loosely followed. As far as housing goes the majority of neighborhoods are racially pocketed because of LONG STANDING racial discrimination whether or not the laws today are written to prevent that.

I suppose the real argument is whether or not bussing is still relevant and necessary and while I would love to think that is isn’t, I think its very naïve to think that anything regarding race is antiquated in this country. Race will always be an issue and I worry to think what that will mean for the deep south. Segregated schools only helps to further prejudice and add fuel to what may very well be a dying fire. I think I am very fortunate to have gone to an integrated school because I was able to make friends disregarding race as a factor and I hesitate to think how many kids will now not be afforded the same experience. Its tragic and dismaying but race issues will always be prevalent in America and looks to only GROWING as an issue as the immigration debate heats up. Many people forget that this country was built on immigrants. Hispanics are just the new Irish, the new Western European, the new Chinese…and it’s naïve to think that this country will ever be able to close off its borders to those looking to make a better life for themselves. That’s the American legacy and it won’t soon change. I’m not sure how this ran into an immigration rant but I’ll leave you with this thought: “What if the Native Americans had a stricter immigration policy??”

More reflection….

The problems and my solutions (to our faltering school systems):

PROBLEM:

School districts are draw to integrate particular school districts. The argument is majority of “black schools” do not provide the same level of education as say an affluent “white school.” Redrawing the district lines gives black kids the opportunity to attend better schools and afford them more opportunities.

SOLUTION:

Draw neighborhood district lines along socio economic groups. While this still poses some of the same problems as along racial lines it brings the issue away from race and to what is really the problem. There is a lack of discipline, poor parental involvement, etc among the majority of students in poorer neighborhoods.

PROBLEM:

While each school in the district is given the same amount of money (by law, disregarding additions due to security funding) good teachers would rather teach in affluent neighborhoods but you still can’t get good teachers to teach at bad schools. Bussing disenfranchises those that were fortunate enough to attend the “good” schools in the first place by forcing them to go to a lesser school.

SOLUTION:

Offer premiums to teachers that are willing to teach at (for the sake of argument) “trouble” schools. For instance School A in affluent neighborhood offers starting teachers $48,000 versus School B in poor/black neighborhood which offers $55,000 starting salary. (I have no idea what teachers’ salaries are but you get the idea)

PROBLEM:

Kids are forced to bus to schools sometimes over an hour away. This also poses the problem that parents will likely be far away from their children in the event of an emergency like severe illness, school shooting etc.

SOLUTION:

Make the rule that bussing cannot be more than 30 miles away from your home. If there are no poor neighborhoods within 30miles then so be it. No bussing. Keep it realistic.

Final thought:

Is the question how do we ensure racially integrated school systems OR how do we create better schools?…I think the latter is far better question to ask…if every school was a good one would we even be discussing this???

a good school is only as strong as the parents. parents who can afford or have the savvy to find exposure for their children, parents who have a higher learning background, parents who find the time to support their children’s interests, and parents who are active in school affairs create a child who takes advantage of what is offered and blossoms. usually economics plays a big part in this.

imagine what your career in school would have been like if you had gone to our neighborhood schools,

interesting.

True but you can’t control parental involvement. If the question is “how do we makes schools better?” parental involvement isn’t a factor that the government can affect (at least not directly). We can affect teacher’s salaries. We can affect the priority of education in governmental agendas. We can create diverse school populations. We can affect school security. Etc etc etc. A plausible solution to this country’s faltering school systems lies in some aspect we can directly change.

do you honestly think that the school systems will strive to achieve diversity since the supreme court ruling? as you know schools are not equal. have you seen “separate but equal,” a movie? i feel like all we 60’s and 50’s folk tried to do to make equality play a part in the lives of black kids has been cut back tremendously. i also fear the precedents in other life avenues this decision will effect–like jobs, housing, scholarships, college acceptance.

The ruling in essence does not overturn Brown v. Board but rather upholds equal protection under the law (14th Amendment). For the same reason it was illegal to force black kids all to go to the same school, it’s just as illegal to force kids to go to schools that outside the reasonable realm of transportation.

Schools will not attempt to achieve diversity because that will never be in their best interests because that is not how they are judged. They are judged on test scores and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

These cases don’t overlap with the Bakke decision and affirmative action lives on (well mostly). This is far from a slippery slope decision just an interesting one in the way that it will affect school districts in many areas across the south. I wouldn’t view this decision as a step backwards but rather a natural progression of the law already in practice. Although the redistricting of schools along racial lines has good intent, it is questionable to what extent it disenfranchises others. It is very clear that affirmative action disenfranchises whites in a way that many people refer to as “reverse racism.” In the end if we wanted to be completely PC race would never play an issue but by acknowledging that race is still a factor we let the ills of racism fester beneath the surface of social awareness.

It like me going up to someone and saying “you’re white but I still want to be friends with you.” You can see a person or you can see a white person and how we perceive people is innate and deep rooted but is merely a social normalization. It is socialized from a very young age and continues to fragment our society because too many people aren’t even aware that their perceptions are skewed.

Along those same lines its similar to the phrase people love to use for Barrack Obama, “he so articulate” And what most black people hear is “he’s so articulate FOR A BLACK PERSON” and thus they are offended.

By allowing people to use race as a qualifier for anything don’t we just feed the monster? Race will always be relevant as long as we allow it to be.

My rant for the day…

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One Response to ““Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts””

  1. This article explores race in the marketplace and is a great reference and clearly explicates the flaws of affirmative action:

    http://users.law.capital.edu/federalistsociety/fp3/race.htm


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