April 24, 2010

Race conundrum in education (again)

I really had to ponder this Philly Inquirer editorial yesterday. It attempts to paint as sinister the Lower Merion School District's plans to send more black students to a school farther away (Harriton HS) than a closer one (Lower Merion HS) -- plans which the district claims is to achieve more diversity.

Now, let's stop right here for a second. "Progressives" have argued for years -- decades, now -- that "diversity" is an educational boon. Such an argument won the day in Grutter v. Bollinger, but similarly-based lower education plans were shot down by the US Supreme Court in 2007 (regarding Seattle and Louisville, KY). In those plans, districts sought to -- get this -- move students to different schools to achieve diversity ... just like Lower Merion apparently wants to do. And how did the Philly Inquirer opine on the SCOTUS decision then?

The school assignment programs such as those the court ruled against Thursday are designed to give children of different races and backgrounds opportunities to get to know each other better, as classmates. That kind of mixing at an early age might in fact lessen the need for other, more intrusive measures down the road. . . .

Our schools cannot truly mold children into the adult citizens we need them to be without exposing them to situations and people they otherwise might not encounter.

What does it say now?

The Lower Merion district can't very well argue that any consideration of race by it was to provide equal opportunity. Both of its high schools are well-funded and provide good educations. Plus the equal opportunity the plaintiffs seek is to attend the school closest to their homes.

Mandatory busing failed as a solution to segregated schools in America by driving families out of public schools and making them even less diverse. There's no need to let a busing plan similarly offend black students in Lower Merion schools, which are already diversity-challenged, both racially and economically.

Let's see if we can follow:

  • First, the district says its plan was for [racial] diversity, not "equal opportunity," and the editorial even states this in its third paragraph. This seems to be just semantics games.

  • Second, the Inquirer already informed us as to what a benefit racial diversity was three years ago. Why would it suddenly change its philosophy by opining that a [beneficial] diversity plan "would offend" black students?

  • Third, if it was consistent, wouldn't the Inquirer praise the Lower Merion plan? It could be seen "as challenging" the 2007 rulings that still allowed (in narrowly tailored instances) the use of race?

  • Fourth, the editorial at the end states "In the meantime, one might hope for a case that successfully challenges Roberts' notion that there's no further need for race-based remedies to discrimination." But that's not what the Seattle and Louisville districts were addressing -- racial discrimination. They were simply seeking "diversity" along with its [supposed] academic benefits. Diversity, which, again, the Inquirer highly favored in 2007.

Ultimately, however, the editorial gets it right in that Lower Merion plan most likely won't withstand legal scrutiny based on the 2007 SCOTUS decision, and it would be wise to seek an out-of-court settlement. And, the [black] students and parents who are miffed at the district are legally and philosophically correct based on same. But, again, here is an example of the conundrum "progressives" face on matters such as this. Is "diversity" an educational panacea ... but only up until the time minorities believe (or wish) otherwise?

We are seeing something similar in northern Delaware of late. Ever since the federal desegregation order was lifted from New Castle County in the mid-90s, and then the passing of the Neighborhood Schools Law, we've seen demands from [Wilmington] city interests to once again have a Wilmington School District (which was dissolved in 1978 when the federal deseg order was implemented). But ... such a district would be decisively minority compared to the surrounding [suburban] districts. What about the benefits of diversity? After all, the "big four" districts in the county really only cosmetically altered their feeder patterns to abide by the Neighborhood Schools Law, one of the rationales being needed ... diversity!

It's akin to what I've opined on at times regarding HBCs -- Historically Black Colleges. If, as "progressives" insist, diversity is of such import (colleges clamor all the time about their "commitment to diversity"), then why do HBCs exist? Aren't they living contradictions to the very boon diversity to supposed to bring everybody?

Posted by Hube at April 24, 2010 02:46 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

why yes, yes they are living contradictions, as is the whole 'diversity' crap...and what a dang joke about schools molding students by exposing them to situations and people they otherwise might not encounter!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's simply called...I don't like you because of, pick one, how you act, how you speak, how you treat others, how your morals are bankrupt, so, conclusion, I DONT WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But the liberal schools and ivory tower social engineering universities want us to be exposed to diversity now so ' more INTRUSIVE measures down the road won't be needed....I have a simple solution to diversity....how about certain minority groups stop having children out of wedlock upwards of 80%! Then, the education that should occur at home would let the schools do their job of educating, not social engineering....in the end, in some idiots famous words, 'why can't we all just get along'?!!!1

Posted by: cardinals fan at April 24, 2010 07:49 PM

This is an absolutely terrific post! Great job.

Posted by: Digby at April 25, 2010 07:27 PM

I used to live in Hampton, Virginia, and there were two "historically black colleges," Hampton University and Norfolk State University, in the area. They were definitely majority black in enrollment, but Hampton University had a substantial graduate program which had a lot of white students.

Posted by: Dana at April 25, 2010 09:02 PM

you have to agitate to get the spoils.

first you agitate for bussing, then you agitate against bussing, then you agitate for...

Posted by: anonni at April 28, 2010 03:32 PM