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June 08, 2011
June 09, 2011
November 05, 2008
Today's Supreme Court decision striking down Louisville's and Seattle's race-based student assignment plans will surely lead to much gnashing of teeth, recriminations, and accusations that America is slipping back to the era of Jim Crow. Politically-correct experts, educators and advocacy types will express outrage and declare their intent to find a way--any way--to ensure that the remaining handful of white students in urban districts attends schools otherwise populated by African-American and Hispanic children.
They're wrong. Not because we shouldn't feel guilty that so many of our urban schools are racially isolated. Of course we should. And not because Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of an integrated society isn't compelling. Of course it is. But the surest route to such a society is to help all children achieve academically, prepare for higher education as well as jobs with futures, and enter the great American middle class. Because here's the good news: middle class black children living in suburbs are much more likely to attend racially diverse schools than poor urban black children are. The way forward is through social and economic progress--which starts with academic progress. That means shaking up the urban school systems that produce such abysmal results.
So urban education--and community--leaders: If you really care about the future of black and brown students, here's your to-do list.
Gird yourselves. If you fight this fight, lots of people won't thank you. The teacher unions and some civil rights groups will come after you (representing, as they do, some of these incompetent individuals you will dismiss from the rolls). Academia will disparage you both because you're attacking their ed-school cash cows and because you're destroying the temple of cultural relativism. Many liberals will call you a sell-out (arguing, as they do, that "public" schools must be run by government and staffed by union members). You're in for a tough time.
But if you're truly outraged about the plight of disadvantaged minority students, if injustice really makes your blood boil, you'll be willing to wage this war anyway. It'll make more difference to those kids than the skin color of those in the adjoining desks.