Black People : Schools to Re-Examine Racial Integration

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    Schools to Re-Examine Racial Integration
    Posted: 2007-06-30 13:27:03

    WASHINGTON (June 30) - What to do now? School officials around the country are asking that question following a Supreme Court decision rejecting racial integration plans in Seattle and Louisville, Ky.

    The 5-4 ruling prohibited those district plans but didn't entirely shut the door on using race as a factor when making decisions about what schools should look like.

    The ruling brought complaints that it allegedly betrayed the Supreme Court's most acclaimed ruling - the 53-year-old Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregated schools.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy went along with the court's four most conservative members in rejecting the Louisville and Seattle plans. However, he stopped short of saying race can never be a component of school efforts to achieve diversity.

    "A district may consider it a compelling interest to achieve a diverse student population," Kennedy said. "Race may be one component of that diversity."

    Educators like John Modest call the ruling "the re-segregation of America's public schools."

    But this time, the West Charlotte, N.C., principal said, the segregation is based on class, not just race.

    “I think you saw some white flight and bright flight,” said West Charlotte High School principal John Modest. “White flight and bright flight, where the black middle class folks were leaving, too, from the schools.”

    But Kennedy's opinion had some proponents of the integration plans cheering.

    "My overall view is that we dodged a bullet," said William Taylor, chairman of the Washington-based Citizens Commission on Civil Rights, who added that he expected a much more sweeping rejection of race as a factor in school district decision making.

    Kennedy suggested race could be a factor in deciding where to build a new school and how to draw school attendance boundaries.

    He also said districts should be able to find creative ways to achieve their goalntegration led to higher test scores for black students in the 1970s and into the 1980s, narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students. She said that gap then widened when integration efforts slowed.

    Proponents of racially integrated schools say they are motivated for reasons beyond academics.

    "We know that there are benefits of diversity. Those benefits are social and academic," said Vanderbilt University education researcher Claire Smrekar. "We know kids who attend racially integrated schools are far more likely to live in integrated neighborhoods and be employed in integrated workplaces."

    But Ross Wiener, vice president of program and Policy at Education Trust, which advocates for poor and minority children, said even inside integrated schools segregation exists.

    Wiener referred to a tendency for minorities to be more likely to attend special education classes, vocation classes and classes for limited English speakers than their white peers. They also are less likely to be placed in gifted or Advanced Placement courses.

    "There's no question that racially diverse schools provide positive educational opportunities, but the fact is we've rarely taken advantage of those opportunities," he said. "In both integrated and racially isolated schools, Black and Hispanic students too often get assigned to weaker teachers and dumbed-down coursework."

    CBS News contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
    2007-06-30 11:16:17