Monday, August 13, 2007

more on education...

A C-J letter this morning is not only bigoted (maybe she meant "more credibility"?), but ignorant about the fascinating history of the Central HS racial discrimination case.

Gordon's letter
Teddy B. Gordon's letter, "C-J's 'fear-mongering, inflammatory rhetoric," (Aug. 5), might have had some credibility had he represented an inner-city, African-American public school student. But he didn't did he? So, it wasn't.

Louisville 40220

This situation started nearly ten years ago when an African-American parent/student protested that blacks were not allowed into Central-- a relatively high quality, historically-important, magnet school in their neighborhood-- because they were black (and there weren't "enough" whites in the school according to JCPS).

From Wikipedia:
This case is the last of a trilogy of cases against Jefferson County Public Schools and their use of race in assigning students to schools. The first case started in 1998 when five African American high school students sued JCPS to allow them to attend Central High School, a magnet school. They were denied entrance because they were black. In 2000, Federal Judge John Heyburn, after finding that the JCPS school system did not need to be under a court-ordered desegregation policy, ruled that race could not used for student assignment placement in the JCPS school system in regard to their magnet school programs. In 2004, he ruled the same for the traditional schools, but allowed the regular public schools to use race as the admission requirement. It is this part that went before the US Supreme Court as the other two cases were not appealed by JCPS.

The patent absurdity of the original case is not quite matched by the most recent case. But the idea of using race to determine where kids go to school is staggeringly obsolete-- and an amazing reversal of the types of people who support race-based decisions (although, ironically, they're usually in the same political party). If there weren't so much at stake, it might be amusing to watch its defenders huff and puff about the need to use unjust means to achieve dubious ends.

Beyond all of this, we're back to the point that the problems in our country's education system are not ultimately about tweaking a ineffective system (a government-run monopoly), but changing the system.


At August 13, 2007 at 7:54 PM , Blogger David Hutson said...

The use of race in deciding who can go to what school is not so staggeringly obsolete as one might think. The Supreme Court reaffirmed its prior holdings in 2003 that diversity is a compelling state interest, and that universities could take race into account in making admissions decisions to achieve a racially diverse student body. The Jefferson County case was distinguished for several reasons, one of which being that the plans of the schools were not actually tailored to meet any goal of achieving "diversity." That is to say, had the school districts been less blatant, and taken into account, say, parental income, parental education, language spoke at home, (others?),together with race that the case might have come out differently. The question that deserves more attention is "does diversity (whatever that is) actually have compelling benefits to students?", and, if it does, "is that benefit worth the cost?" My own opinion is that mere racial diversity, without more, is unlikely to benefit students of any race substantially. The presence of white students in a classroom does not help black students learn math.

What I would argue is really at issue is whether the government should be permitted to engage in remedial measures to better the education of black students, who, as a group, have been historically disadvantaged. The Supreme Court has been reluctant to approve of such race based remedial measures on equal protection grounds. But why be dishonest? Why call it "diversity" when it is really something else? The purpose of the 14th amendment was, among other things, to extend the full benefits of citizenship to former slaves. In light of this it is odd to think that allowing government to take race-conscious remedial measures is patently unconstitutional. We can surely disagree that government is capable of actually bringing about equality, but there should be no constitutional obstacle that makes our government lie about the fact that that is, in fact, what it is trying to do.

At August 15, 2007 at 10:32 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Good stuff, Dave...Thanks!

How is law school treating you?

At August 17, 2007 at 1:06 PM , Blogger David Hutson said...

Law school is great! Last year was very challenging, and I would never want to do it over again, but I've never been so consistently challenged on a daily basis. A very exciting experience -- now just working on becoming gainfully employed. The students of IUS are very lucky to have you -- keep up the good work!


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