Good news out of Seattle: It seems to have foresworn the social engineering of diversity in its public schools. In the 1970s, Seattle was leading the voluntary desegregation efforts of big cities. In 1978, the Seattle Times reports, the city "became the first large urban district in the nation to undertake a desegregation plan without a court order to do so." Fast forward 30 years (after the highest court in the land ordered Seattle to halt its last remnants of voluntary desegregation) and the school district's mindset has changed. Today, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson says she values diversity but values high-quality schools more. That idea is echoed, more bluntly, by the chairman of the city's school board: "It's not my job to desegregate the city. We serve the kids that come to our doors." That makes sense. Housing patterns are what they are. Busing was tried and failed. And time and again, parents of all races and socioeconomic levels have expressed their preference for quality close-to-home education for their children. That Seattle seems to have accepted these facts, moved on from waging wars over diversity, and started zeroing in on the educational problems of its k-12 system, is surely promising. Let's hope that, as in 1978, Seattle's ideas catch on.
"The resegregation of Seattle's schools," by Linda Shaw, Seattle Times, June 1, 2008
"Integration is no longer Seattle school district's top priority," by Linda Shaw, Seattle Times, June 3, 2008