Thursday, June 28, 2007

SCOTUS Ruling Limits Use of Race for Diversity in Schools

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that earlier today (in another 5-4 ruling), the Supreme Court rejected integration plans at public school districts in Louisville, Kentucky and Seattle, Washington. The decision restricted how public school systems may attain racial diversity.

The AJC article contains the following excerpts from select Justices:

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Yet Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door ajar for the use of race and would not go as far as the other four conservative justices, saying in a concurring opinion that race may be a component of school plans designed to achieve diversity. He said, "A district may consider it a compelling interest to achieve a diverse student population. Race may be one component of that diversity."

Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's only black member, wrote a separate opinion endorsing the ruling and taking issue with the dissenters' view of the Brown case. Thomas said, "What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today. The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students' race. Because 'our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,' such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional."

Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent joined by the other liberals on the court, said Roberts' opinion undermined the promise of integrated schools that the court laid out 53 years ago in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. "To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown," Breyer said.
Read the entire AJC article here.

plez sez: it's not like i didn't expect such a ruling from this Court, but it still hit me like a blow to the gut! talking about turning back the clock on race relations in this country... well, this does it!

and now it's time to start making some lemonade with all these lemons that the SCOTUS has been tossing from the ivory tower! in one week, the Supreme Court has given big business unfettered access to the election process (campaign ad funding), restricted first amendment rights of students (bong hits 4 jesus), and restricted the use of race for student diversity in public schools.

on its face Brown v. Board of Education was what this country needed to get past its racist past, but what that ruling left out was equal access to quality education for all students. busing brought about racial diversity (in some cases), but never brought the funds necessary to lift those communities which were left behind. i will contend that i did not need to sit beside white students to learn, what i needed was the same educational resources (books, equipment, teachers) that was readily available in the white communities.

after 50-something years, i guess it is time to move on from application of Brown and take responsibility for the spirit of Brown in our children's education and our public schools. instead of busing our children to majority white districts, let's lobby our school boards to incent better and more established teachers to come teach in our communities, let's ensure that our curriculum enhances our children's education, let's get our Black boys out of these special ed classes, and let's make sure that dollar-for-dollar, our kids are getting the quality education that our taxes are paying for.

after today's ruling, the rules have changed and they're not changing back. today's Supreme Court consists of right-wing activists who will consistently push a conservative agenda for the next 20 years! i am sure that Roe v. Wade will fall during the next session which begins in October.

now, i do have some choice words for some of the opinions that were rendered:
  1. Roberts implies that the spirit of Brown v. Board of Education was not for integration of public schools; so if not, what was the spirit of the 1954 ruling?
  2. Thomas is ALL WRONG to imply that Brown v. Board of Education was wrong in 1954; what planet was this dude living on in 1954 when his BLACK ASS couldn't go to a good school where he was raised in segregated Georgia?!? and since when was the Constitution colorblind? since when was this country colorblind?
  3. why did Kennedy vote with the majority when he believes that race can be a component used for racial diversity? doesn't that contradict the ruling?

  4. lastly, i can pray that this ruling is a catalyst for self-reliance and self-motivation to demand quality public school education in the Black community.


Anonymous said...

It's clear that you don't understand this ruling at all.

Schools have been integrated for fifty years. The same low quality education in poor black areas are present in poor white areas, but there is no thought of busing. You almost hit on one truth: that the key to achieving true racial equality is by insuring that everyone gets the best education possible.

However, busing students to achieve some sort of demographic "diversity" is a waste of resources. The issue is no long racial segregation, it's economic disparity. And no level of racial quotas can achieve this.

plez... said...

i love it when an ANONYMOUS person leaves a comment about me not understanding something... and then going on to prove that i do understand it. i never said that i was a fan of busing, to be perfectly clear about the issue, i'm totally against busing for any reason.

but i also understand that there are descrepancies in this country that are racial in origin (i.e. the public education system and the justice system). but i am also BRILLIANT to know that the racial component is just one aspect of our troubles, there is also a socioeconomic component and a geographic component.

...and for the life of me, i don't know where you came up with racial quotas... they aren't even part of this discussion.

if you don't have the GUTS to leave your name, please don't leave a comment... i will delete all subsequent anonymous comments.

Dave said...

Was listening to this on NPR tonight, and here is what I think the main problems are.

First off, no one can control defacto segregation. People will choose to isolate themselves within communities and groups that have little if any diversity, of their own free will. The reason they do this is fear, ignorance, and just plain old feeling uncomfortable around certain other groups. Some examples that come to mind, "gated" neighborhoods (class based defacto), and all "black" or "white" church congregations (social based defacto). Until people learn to practice acceptance and tolerance, such that they value each other's company, defacto segregation will continue to create unnatural rifts in our family, no matter what legislation is enacted one way or another.

I also tend to agree with theories on economic disparity playing a heavy handed role in our world's woes. The class based struggle is like a huge umbrella that casts its shadow over all other battles. It aggravates, confuses, and perpetuates all our smaller dilemmas. The "haves" distract us "have-nots" by dividing us up, pitting us against each other, meanwhile they maintain their version of order.

To the O.P., I understand your approach to this, but you mustn't forget what Frederick Douglass said so many years ago. Essentially his point was, when you see a black man walk by, holes in his sweater, no shoes, you can empathize with his condition, because he has had to start out from a more difficult position in life. But when you see a white man with holes in his sweater, and no shoes, he is called white trash, because society has been structured so that he among all others, should be able to succeed, if he had half a mind to do so.

If you believe that poverty is color blind, or that equal percentages of all the various ethnic groups are equally represented by poverty, you are sadly mistaken. Even among successful professionals, it is reported that an African American male makes only 67% that of his white counterpart doing the exact same job. Hispanics? 66%. Native Americans? 48%. Poverty is absolutely afflicting some groups more than others. Until you recognize this, no form of affirmative action based policy will ever make sense.

In summary: class and race based social disadvantages are thriving in the United States. Anything that attempts to level the playing field is a step in the right direction, cost be damned.

tom said...

Kennedy is a fool and ought to be ashamed of himself. We know the other four are rat bastards and should expect nothing less from them, but Kennedy has half a brain - well, there it is. He only has half.

It's a god damned shame. And you're right. We're stuck with these morons and their medieval thinking for a generation.

Jay said...

As the suburbs grew from "white flight" over the years cities began building their newest and fanciest schools in those new suburbs. Then they decided to bus the black kids all over the place to creat better racial balance.

How bout if they stop building all the new schools out in the all white suburbs and bus the white kids to the existing schools? They can use all that money they were going to use on the new school to expand and improve the existing one.

Also how 'bout some laws that gurantee each school get equal funding and equal resources for classroom equipment?

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I'm so furious over this that I can hardly contain myself. I know what the purpose of this decision is and I know what the result will be. Schools will become more segregated and because whites are the majority on school boards and city councils, the most and best resources will be directed to white schools.

I remind my own kids (who study in Brazilian schools where the per pupil expense will never reach that of American schools) that it was illegal to teach Blacks to learn to read during slavery, but some of us were very determined and learned to read anyway. We need to have that attitude now of self-reliance now, educating ourselves even when white do everything in their power to keep it from happening.

Soon computers and broadband will be nearly as common in Black homes as color television. We need to see THIS as our source of education and intra-group communication, because even right now no one can limit how much we use our broadband connections to educate ourselves and our children.

Keith said...

I once had a college professor ask his fairly diverse class "Why would I want to live in a white neighborhood? So they can burn my house down and call my kids nigger?" He said that he was going to live and die in Harlem unless he moved to Rwanda. I bring this up because his point was that not much had changed in this country. This ruling, essentially, doesn't change much either.

We knew when Bush took office almost seven years ago that the Supreme Court was going to take a turn for the worse. When he was reelected we knew the conservative agenda would have a stronghold in this country for the foreseeable future. At the end of the day black folk need to fight to improve the schools where they live, as plez suggested, and stop fighting to go where they are still not wanted.

I like that Dave pointed out defacto segregation, but we also cannot forget institutional racism as a catalyst for it.

Dave said...

Thats true Keith. It aggravates me to no end these people who act like social mobility is based solely on getting an education. Sky's the limit. "Don't buy into the lie."

The reality is exactly as you said. Feel like I been saying this a lot lately, but it needs to be said, to the point of hammering it home. Until such time as America has a minority president, and the list of Americas 100 wealthiest people includes 38%+ minority individuals, then equal opportunity is still a myth, and thats just the facts.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

"Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama obliterated party fundraising records by raking in at least 32.5 million dollars in the last three months, outpacing his top rival Hillary Clinton."