The Next Kind of Integration?

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The Next Kind of Integration?

July 25, 2008 - 00:21

 A reader passes along this link from The New York Times Sunday magazine:

The Next Kind of Integration

Emily Bazelon writes about a recent Supreme Court decision on education:

In June of last year, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, declared the racial-integration efforts of two school districts unconstitutional. Seattle and Louisville, Ky., could no longer assign students to schools based on their race, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his lead opinion in Meredith v. Jefferson County School Board (and its companion case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1). Justice Stephen Breyer sounded a sad and grim note of dissent. Pointing out that the court was rejecting student-assignment plans that the districts had designed to stave off de facto resegregation, Breyer wrote that “to invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown.” By invoking Brown v. Board of Education, the court’s landmark 1954 civil rights ruling, Breyer accused the majority of abandoning a touchstone in the country’s efforts to overcome racial division. “This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret,” he concluded.

There are 5 Comments

The article talks about economics but reading it closely it emphasizes the educational disparities between black/white (minority) groups. Making the problem a racial one again instead of attacking the faults at the school level only displays that nothing has been learned historically from the cilvil rights days in New York City and Boston. You don't fix the problem you have expressed to me at lunch by shuffling the deck chairs and that seems to be what is being implied. If you gave all the people on the southside a choice of going "north" to school, most would say "no". The ones to say "yes" would be the more informed. What would be left behind are simply more problems--and don't tell me the competition will force better education. Better education comes from better leadership and a motivated teaching staff, and the recognition from Central that struggling schools need many educational improvements.

It seems that we have now a forum to express perspectives from the community. For many who read this blog it provides a legitimate platform for intelligent discussion. It is now common knowledge in the black community, and soon in the latino community, that we have a terrificly segregated community. With this reality comes the struggle to explain to our children why this is so and what derivative effect it will have on them in school. We are seeing this now in our high school. I was honored to be invited to my niece's honors award at the high school several weeks ago. It was impressive that there was one, perhaps to black students and perhaps two latino students getting awards. According to one of the counselors at the event who is retiring, the HS is is roughly 1/3 white, 1/3 latino and 1/3 black. Given this reality, the results of the honors should reflect this breakdown, considering the presumably award winning schools commentary by the board president and the superintendent. So where is the failure? I was at the high school with my niece the other morning watching a sports camp for kids in the morning and saw all of the kids marching into the high school for summer classes. Are there any anglo kids in summer camp? Again, there is something wrong with this picture? Do the administrators in our schools think about this? Do they worry about this? Do they care? And if they care, why aren't they doing anything to remediate this picture. Again, we live in a very segregated community, that will soon become more intolerant.

I work at the high school as a social worker. The learning communities that have been implemented remind me of the indian reservations created many years ago. Once a student is placed in one of these, it is almost impossible to leave, particularly for ESL students. They are often classed by race and ethnicity and let's not get into the composition of the honor's or AP classes. It's almost exclusively north end white kids whose parents have advocated for them. I brought this up to two of the school board members about a year ago and I don't know if it was ever brought up in a meeting. Encouraging parent involvement and providing a level playing field for all students would be a good step in the right direction. The Board of Ed needs to be in tune with what is happening in our communities, both north and south end. Some have no children in schools and have no clue what is going on in our schools. As a HS social worker, we are often asked to fix that which should been anticipated by the Board or the Administration. There is tremendous injustice in our high school; teachers and staff are afraid to speak out because the Assistant Sup does not allow it as per the HS administration. So we continue to provide a positive school picture using smoke and mirrors while the ship is slowly sinking.

keep up the good work, evidence is key, keep the diolog going.

To the NRHS Social Worker:

Thank you for your honesty and courage to speak out. The truth about our schools has remained elusive for far to long. Unfortunately for your honesty, as it often happens when people speak out, you will be paid with alienation. Nevertheless, we applaud you for doing what is right. We look forward as others demonstrate the same amount of courage and commitment to all our children.