Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supreme court decision on school integration

Today’s Supreme Court decision on school integration plans.

Lets be honest: The Supreme court decision was a victory for conservatives. It reflects the Bush Supreme Court. Our opponents, such as the Linda Chavez Equal Opportunity Commission, Ward Connerly and others, oppose the sue of racial and ethnic measures to make school assignments. But, they do nothing to improve the quality of schooling in the poverty schools. They want to fight about racial categories but not work to improve schools. It is important to not ask the oppressor to design the remedies for past discrimination.

But, our moderate allies and elected officials share the responsibility for this defeat.
The school integration policies of cities have not worked, they have not produced high levels of school achievement for all. So, parents fight sending their children to integrated schools because many of these schools are dysfunctional. ( See Choosing Democracy, 2004)
School districts in Seattle and Louisville were defeated ( as will be Sacramento, Los Angeles and others) because they relied upon the lawyers approach and refused to listen to or to change the educators approach.
Since the 1990’s, we have had a school reform plans usually based upon writing standards and standardized testing, placing pressure on teachers to follow a specific curriculum and a focus on testing. The data on this process is in- it has not significantly improved most schools.
While there are exciting examples of improved achievement, in general, school achievement has remained stagnant. (NAEP) There is only limited evidence that this process actually improves schools , student achievement, or improves student opportunity. (Rothstein)
There has been limited improvement in most schools because the interventions used do not deal with basic causes of low achievement, unequal funding of schools, high teacher turn over, family disruption, un safe schools, crime, safety, unemployment have not changed—and therefore the local school is unlikely to change.
We need to improve the schools. The current dominant school leadership and legislative leadership has not improved the schools. The refuse to make the necessary changes to improve schools. The lawyers approach of integration- without school improvement, has failed.
In most cities, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, S.F., Oakland, etc, we have legal integration, but we also have extreme inequality of opportunity. The goal is not diversity, the goal is equal educational opportunity. These lawyers- these school administrators- have not worked for equal opportunity.
Now, in response to the Supreme Court decision, it is time to improve the schools. It is time to stop using lawyers as a substitute for school reform.
Our opponents, such as the Linda Chavez Equal Opportunity Commission, Ward Connerly and others, oppose the sue of racial and ethnic measures to make school assignments. But, they do nothing to improve the quality of schooling in the poverty schools. They want to fight about racial categories but not work to improve schools. It is important to not ask the oppressor to design the remedies for past discrimination.


Duane Campbell
author, Choosing Democracy, a practical guide to multicultural education. (2004)
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