Sunday, June 25, 2006

Inequity

I read an article in the New York Times about schools that are attempting to use race and socioeconomic level as a factor in student assignments to schools in order to ensure their schools maintain socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. Their goals are admirable. I would love to know that every school has an economically and ethnically diverse population.

However, because of this intentional practice, the Supreme Court is now looking into the legality of using race as a criteria in school assignments. For some reason, people think that the days of needing desegregation orders are over. I don't know if they noticed, but our schools are more segregated now than they have been since the 1970's! For more factual information on that, look up Jonathan Kozol's latest book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America or check out Gary Orfield, Professor of Education and Social Policy at Harvard and co-founder of the Civil Rights Project.

We no longer see desegregation as a priority, yet each time a law is passed saying desegregation is no longer needed, we segregate a little bit more. You can see it in the decrease in minority enrollments in colleges.

I have read that the Civil Rights Movement strove to be about equality, but ended up being about integration. There is a difference. Integration allowed middle class Blacks to move out. Equality would have produced schools and neighborhoods that made people wanted to move in.

We need equality, not integration! Schools still suffer from inequality. Though the schools mentioned above that are striving for a ethnic and economic balance should be praised for their intentionality, it is almost always the Black and Hispanic children who are bussed out. Why doesn't the effort go both ways? Why aren't White children bussed in?

For one, I know that White (and other ethnicities, for that matter) parents in the suburbs would fight that tooth and nail. I have read about it happening. They don't think it's fair that their children have to be bussed. Besides, they don't want their children going to inadequate schools.

Why do we think it is any different for kids and parents in the inner cities? Do we think that parents in the inner city want their kids to take a long bus ride every day to school? Do the kids or the parents want to attend schools outside of their neighborhood? Do they want their children attending inadquate schools? I would guess I could survey 100 parents in the inner city and all of them would say NO! So why do we make the rules different for them?
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