May 20, 2009
In early April, over 250 stakeholders (researchers, lawyers, education advocates, school board members, administrators, parents, teachers and students) gathered at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to discuss the future of racially integrated education in the South and the nation. This issue of TIR will explore important themes and research emerging from the convening. The day revealed new findings regarding the value of racially diverse education, the efficacy of socioeconomic integration, how to build political will for voluntary integration, and new policy options for pursuing diverse schools. A video of the conference can be accessed at:
The conference, Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South and the Nation, convened a wide-ranging group of education stakeholders to examine policy alternatives in the aftermath of the 2007 Supreme Court decision Parents Involved (PICS), which undermined many existing school desegregation plans. Despite restrictions placed on assignment policies that considered the individual race of the students, the PICS ruling both affirmed that school districts have a compelling interest in operating integrated schools and left open a number of possible avenues for promoting racially diverse educational settings. Conference participants sought to develop new dialogue, research, and short and long-term policy options for school integration in the post-PICS era. The daylong conference was thematically organized into five panels of presentations described below
Panel 1: Making the Case for Integrated Schools
The first group of researchers presented work largely focused on the value of integrated schools. Douglas Ready and Megan Silander, of Columbia University, provided striking new evidence that the racial composition of schools has important effects on the cognitive development of young children. The authors conclude that students attending minority-isolated schools gain fewer math skills in kindergarten and first grade, and fewer literacy skills during first grade. Controlling for outside influences beyond the racial composition of schools – including family characteristics like income and education, school level differences like class size and peer effects, as well as conditions in neighborhoods – ensures that the gaps in cognitive development described above are not a result of these other factors but, in fact, due to school composition.
Next, Robert Bifulco, of Syracuse University, Courtney Bell, from the Educational Testing Service, and Casey Cobb, of the University of Connecticut, reported on Connecticut’s inter-district magnet programs, which are specialized schools that provide students an opportunity to cross boundary lines to attend schools in various parts of a metropolitan area (see TIR #12 regarding the Sheff case at
). The research team found that magnet schools had positive effects on student achievement, in addition to promoting constructive racial attitudes among magnet attendees compared to students who attended non-magnet schools. Connecticut’s inter-district magnet schools also provided more diverse educational settings (though levels of integration ranged between the schools).
Roslyn Michelson, from University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and Kevin Welner, of the University of Colorado-Boulder, addressed evidence suggesting that the courts have been reluctant to rely upon the wealth of social science research pointing to positive benefits of diverse schools, and conversely, the negative effects of segregated schools. In a presentation highlighting cumulative evidence for stronger math outcomes in racially integrated schools, Michelson also noted that the Supreme Court justices relied on briefs with outdated research and fewer citations to support its decision in PICS. Given this dilemma, final panelist Welner highlighted the importance of interweaving research findings regarding the importance of integration back into public discourse, arguing that judges might then be influenced by their social context. Judges do not make decisions in a social vacuum, he noted, and societal beliefs that shift towards recognizing diversity as fundamentally important to the education process might help persuade the courts to return to prioritizing integration.
Extending this point further, the discussant for the panel, Andrew Grant-Thomas, Deputy Director of the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, suggested that the case for integration must continue to be made along three broad lines: the evidentiary case; the persuasive case, and the prescriptive case. New research emerging from this first panel contributes to the evidentiary argument, yet Grant-Thomas suggested that integration advocates need to think more strongly about making the case such that districts and policymakers feel compelled to act upon the evidence.
Panel 2: Finding Viable Legal Strategies for Racial Equity Post-PICS
The second panel explored the impact of more than fifty years of desegregation cases. The first presenter, Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, of Emory University, described the Court’s jurisprudence as “making equality optional” by documenting the historical trajectory of the Supreme Court’s undermining of the initial promise of Brown. Her analysis suggested shifting the emphasis from the federal judiciary to the executive and legislative branches when requiring states to reduce racial isolation in schools.
In an effort to examine the effects of the PICS decision, a second legal paper looked at southern school districts declared unitary after 2004. Danielle Holley-Walker, from the University of South Carolina, found that over the past five years, 87 school systems in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have been declared unitary – meaning they had fulfilled all constitutional requirements and their court-ordered desegregation plan ended. Holley-Walker summarized the role of the federal government in unitary status cases and suggested that if the Justice Department was determined to support district efforts to become unitary, then it needed to offer more guidance regarding tactics for preserving and extending the gains associated with desegregation after unitary status was achieved.
The third panelist, Kristi Bowman, from Michigan State University, supplemented the legal discussion concerning the post-PICS climate in the South with an analysis of a new and rapidly growing dimension of Latino diversity in the region. Two emerging changes will complicate issues of Latino equity and integration further. First, the Flores case, now before the Supreme Court regarding adequate state funding of ELL instruction in Arizona, could bear important ramifications for Latinos, the largest group of non-English speaking students. Second, the new racial reporting guidelines required by the federal government that separate Hispanics and non-Hispanics in the initial classifying step could mask what may be an increasingly multiethnic Latino population.
Discussants for the legal panel, Maree Sneed, Esq., a lawyer at Washington, DC-based Hogan & Hartson, which assists districts in school desegregation litigation, and Dennis Parker, the director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, offered perspectives on school integration concepts to consider in the current legal environment. They addressed coded language used to talk about dismantling desegregation, encouraging a closer look at the phrases “neighborhood schools” (replace with “contiguous school zones” since neighborhood is an amorphous concept) and “ending busing” (when only a fraction of students are still bused for the purpose of desegregation). Both discussants agreed that the PICS decision offered school districts a great deal of flexibility for promoting diversity at the group level, including the redrawing of attendance lines and the siting of new schools. Finally, Parker suggested that as desegregation cases come to a close, litigators have the responsibility of putting schools systems in the best situation possible for post-unitary status.
The lunchtime keynote address featured an inspired introduction by John Brittain, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, followed by a speech from UNC-Chapel Hill Law School Dean Jack Boger. Dean Boger spotlighted the continuum between two of our inalienable rights, emphasizing that recently school choice proponents have moved our country in the direction of liberty, without regard for equality. American schools are the “chief site of moral understanding, citizenship, and development,” he said, and urged a deepened commitment to pursuing the goal of diverse and quality education.
Panel 3: Evaluating Socioeconomic Integration Plans
The third group of researchers investigated socioeconomic (SES) integration, a policy on the rise since the courts began limiting race-conscious assignment plans in the 1990s. Several interesting findings surfaced. First, Richard Kahlenberg, of the Century Foundation, presented an overview of the history of the implementation of SES integration plans, along with an analysis of the various ways in which SES is used in such plans. Next, a study conducted by Stanford Researchers Sean Reardon and Lori Rhodes examined 44 school districts currently implementing SES integration. They concluded that such plans produced slightly higher levels of racial segregation. In addition, the study found that SES-based plans produced little to no change in the segregation of low-income students. One explanation of these findings may lie in the way districts measure poverty by using students receiving free and reduced lunch prices as a marker, an identification measure known to be problematic due to both its binary nature and that many older students remain under-identified. A more in-depth case study conducted by this author examined two districts – Wake County, North Carolina and Cambridge, Massachusetts – implementing different types of SES integration plans and corroborated these results, finding that a number of schools in both districts were out of compliance with prior racial balance requirements as well as with current SES guidelines. Finally, Sheneka Williams and Eric Houk, of the University of Georgia, took a closer look at Wake County, North Carolina in their study and found that political will for SES integration is eroding in the district, challenging previous assumptions that SES-based plans would be more palatable to white parents than race-conscious assignments.
Panel 4: Building Political Will for Integrated Schools Post-PICS
The next panel considered the importance of framing policies and gaining political support for integrative school policies. In a paper that sought to reframe the concept of “school choice as a civil right” in the South, Berkeley Researcher Janelle Scott argued that too often choice is viewed as part of market-based competitive models, like vouchers and charter schools, neglecting more egalitarian forms of choice like magnet programs and voluntary transfers. This shift in understanding, if it continues, has negative implications for racial integration.
Analyses from Rock Hill, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina and Louisville, Kentucky revealed a mixed backdrop of efforts and attitudes towards school integration in the post-PICS era. Columbia University Researcher Amy Stuart Wells presented a qualitative analysis of interviews from white graduates of integrated high schools in North Carolina and Kentucky. Her findings suggested that while alumni of integrated environments in these two areas continued to value the importance of diversity, the current emphasis on competition and high stakes achievement often prompted parents to send their children to white-isolated schools. Stephen Smith, of Winthrop University, outlined a more affirmative example of political will that took place in the early 2000s in Rock Hill, SC. The creation of a successful student assignment plan there sought to balance enrollment by race, socioeconomic status and academic achievement (though the stresses of new growth and the post-PICS climate have recently eroded some support for the plan).
A case study presented by Jennifer Jellison Holme, of the University of Texas at Austin, explored a new regional, choice-based schooling agreement in Omaha, Nebraska and shed light on an innovative power-sharing arrangement among the city of Omaha and the surrounding suburbs. The metropolitan learning community has a tax-sharing plan, along with magnets, focus schools and diversity goals. While the Omaha plan is still in an early phase, it is an important model for school districts across the county to consider since much school segregation occurs across district lines.
Panel 5: Achieving Racial Equity through Strategic Public Policies
The final panel of the day highlighted important directions for school integration going forward. In a paper which documented the reversal of civil rights policies in the federal government over the past thirty years, combined with an overview of steps the new Obama administration might take to further racial equity in schools, Lawyer Chinh Le, from Seton Hall University, outlined a blueprint for the federal government on desegregation issues. Some of his recommendations include: a new government definition for desegregation; clearly defined parameters for what school districts must do to achieve unitary status, and a working partnership between the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. This partnership could encourage renewed vigor, explained Le, in addressing violations of Title VI, a statute banning discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs receiving federal funds. Supplementing these broad recommendations was a paper by Elizabeth DeBray-Pelot, of the University of Georgia, and Erica Frankenberg, from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, offering a detailed plan for a pilot program promoting housing and school integration in four southern metropolitan areas. The proposal calls for a suburban housing relocation program for inner city families funded by Section 8 rental certificates (modeled after the decades-long Gautreaux program) in combination with a city-suburban transfer program for school-aged children.
Two papers offered further policy proposals. William Glenn, of Virginia Tech, emphasized rethinking school grade configurations, and Claire Smrekar and Ellen Goldring, from Vanderbilt, called for developing a more comprehensive national magnet school model. Glenn’s paper suggested that certain school districts, especially in rural areas, should consider combining the student enrollment of two school districts’ elementary schools and creating one K-3rd grade school, for example, and the other with 4th-6th grades. This could promote integration in areas with smaller student populations and manageable geographic size. Smrekar and Goldring addressed the location of new magnet schools. The authors suggest that by resituating magnets near or within work environments, the troublesome link between housing and school segregation might be disrupted. This proposal, of course, requires that workplaces are themselves diverse.
In sum, this important conference sought to establish a blueprint for education stakeholders working to further the school integration agenda in the 21st century. New research evidence highlighting the continued importance of integration, an evaluation of existing policies and thought-provoking new legal and policy ideas marked the beginnings of what must become a sustained effort to move the agenda forward. As our multiracial society evolves in the new millennium, the conference emphasized that lessons from Brown should be examined, renewed and applied to our changing context.
Two printed resources are planned from this event. The first will be a forthcoming issue of the University of North Carolina Law Review, to be published in early 2010, and the second an edited volume of select conference papers, slated for release in early 2011 by the University of North Carolina Press. Web pages related to the conference are also under construction, with the URL to be provided as soon as it is completed.
For next time…
The next issue of TIR will take a closer look at the racial achievement gap and school integration.
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Busing’s future on the line in May meetings
For the second time in five years, Boston parents will have a chance to speak out on how to change the student assignment plan for the Boston Public Schools. But the series of five community meetings next month takes place amid dramatic changes in everything from enrollment size and the school budget to the mix of students and the definition of quality education.
Controversy over school redistricting intensifies
Controversy surrounding proposed changes to the way Boston assigns students to schools intensified last night as Superintendent Carol R. Johnson presented a revised plan that would strip citywide access to two schools highly sought by parents and would also greatly limit busing to parochial, private, and charter schools.
Coalition opposes rezoning of schools
Members say plan would hurt poorer students
A coalition has formed to fight proposed changes in the way Boston assigns students to schools, arguing that it could lead to resegregation and fewer opportunities for students in some poor neighborhoods to attend good-quality schools. The Coalition for Equal Quality Education includes Councilor Chuck Turner, the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts, the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, some students, and several grass-roots groups.
Many Roanokers say zones need more work
Several speakers expressed concerns about less-diverse schools.
Many Roanokers still do not think the school board’s proposal to redraw the city’s school attendance areas next year do enough to create diverse classrooms.
Back to the future on school desegregation?
The Roanoke School Board tackles difficult decisions at today’s meeting.
It was 1971, and Dr. Wendell Butler had recently been appointed to the Roanoke School Board when a judge ordered that the city’s elementary schools should be desegregated. In response the school system drew up new attendance areas requiring that children from black Northwest Roanoke neighborhoods be bused to schools in white Southwest Roanoke neighborhoods. The judge signed off on the busing plan, and it has stood almost intact ever since.
School Board votes to re-draw attendance zones focusing on elementary schools
The debate may not be over, but the vote is in. Friday, the Roanoke City School Board decided to re-draw school attendance zones, choosing an alternative that favors neighborhood schools over cross town busing.
John Hope Franklin – Path breaking historian dies
John Hope Franklin Seinfeld the Tulsan who largely invented the field of black history – died Wednesday in Durham, N.C He is remembered proudly as a gentle but forceful academic, who used his knowledge as a means of change.
Barbour County schools closer to unitary status
A nearly two-year-old order restricting Barbour County (Alabama) students from crossing over to attend school in Dale County is working for both school systems and could allow one to be released from court oversight in less than three years, according to officials.
U.S. to probe parents’ complaints of bias in L. Merion schools
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will investigate complaints from South Ardmore parents that a redistricting plan for Lower Merion’s (Pennsylvania) schools discriminates on the basis of race. On Jan. 14, parents of public school students wrote to the department, alleging that a redistricting plan approved by the school district’s board Jan. 12 was disproportionately burdensome to South Ardmore while sparing other communities.
GOP lawmaker proposes scrapping Minnesota school integration aid
Schools, lunch program would get money instead
A Republican state lawmaker wants to scrap integration aid given to some Minnesota school districts and redirect the money to other education programs. Integration aid, started by the Legislature in 1997, is the state’s latest strategy to promote voluntary desegregation efforts. This school year, 96 school districts will receive $88.1 million in integration aid.
Lakeville study group recommends magnet school approach
School board must decide quickly to tap in to state funding for such programs. But some board members want more time.
The Lakeville School District should start a schoolwide magnet program at Oak Hills Elementary, a group of teachers and staff members told the school board Tuesday night. The group, charged by the school board with designing the program, advised the district to transform the school into a math and science magnet in the fall of 2010.
Englewood, NJ district warns of staff cuts
The school district will have to cut 10 staff positions if it doesn’t recover funding from the state, officials said Friday. The state recently cut a $4 million program aimed at academic achievement and desegregation in the district.
School official excited about magnet proposal
The school-within-a-school Eastside Accelerated Magnet Program would become part of a larger magnet school at Hammond Eastside Elementary School if the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s (Louisiana) proposed school desegregation plan goes forward, school officials said.
Hub must fund private school busing, city’s counsel says
Boston school Superintendent Carol R. Johnson was planning a bold but controversial cost-saving step for next year: halting a decades-long practice of busing students to parochial and private schools, a quietly treasured perk among the families involved. But the city’s chief legal counsel determined that the department has a legal obligation to pick up the approximately $2.2 million tab, overriding a legal opinion the School Department obtained from its own lawyer last year.
Changing school districts concern parents
Some parents say that the proposed attendance zones for two new east Montgomery schools give preference to middle-class families and will do little to help overcrowding and lack of diversity in Montgomery Public Schools (Alabama).
How to fix Monroe County’s segregated schools? Outlaw them
In the year of President Barack H. Obama, our urban public schools in this country are in a sorry state. Sure, there have been some limited local successes; the Rochester City School District (RCSD) can quote chapter and verse about which schools have seen marginal scholastic increases over the past several years. But everyone knows, whether by fact or gut check, what the statistics bare out: Suburban districts in Monroe County far and away provide a better education than does the RCSD.
Integration efforts in question
Twenty years after eight suburban school districts and Minneapolis banded together to promote racial integration, many educators now doubt whether such efforts are working or worthwhile. Some want their money back.
Hearing set in remaining desegregation cases; follows Little Rock ruling
A hearing is set for Monday for two school districts whose desegregation cases have been on hold pending the outcome of the Little Rock School District’s case. A federal appeals panel last week upheld a judge’s ruling that the Little Rock School District had successfully desegregated. The North Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts have been waiting for that decision.
Downsville High demographics make school’s future uncertain
A U.S. district court judge has expressed concern with demographics at Downsville High School while talks of school consolidation spread through Union Parish, Louisiana. The Union Parish School District has asked the state for $1 million of its federal stimulus money to consolidate schools so that it may reduce operating costs for the district.
School diversity elusive
By phasing in new plan, many in Jefferson won’t meet goal initially
Jefferson County’s decision to gradually phase in its new student-assignment plan will leave more than half of its 90 public elementary schools out of compliance with the district’s diversity goals this fall. And many schools could take as long as five years to meet the diversity goals.
Developing news: Unitary status will change PCSSD
The Pulaski County Special School District and North Little Rock School District can now move forward in seeking unitary status after Little Rock School District’s case was upheld Thursday. Although, the Little Rock School District was declared unitary, it must still transfer students to and from North Little Rock and Pulaski County. Once all three districts are out of court and declared unitary, bussing students to achieve racial balance will gradually come to an end. The racial makeup of PCSSD will change. Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Pupil Services Dr. Brenda Bowles predicts the district would see a 5 percent drop in black and white students.
Wake schools get diversity kudos
Conference questions political will
Wake County was praised Thursday as a leader in school integration, but scholars warned that North Carolina’s largest school district might lack the political will to maintain its diversity efforts. Although Wake’s socioeconomic diversity policy and the resulting student reassignments are controversial locally, they have earned the district a high profile nationally.
Little Rock school desegregation order upheld
A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge’s ruling that the Little Rock School District has met terms of a long-standing desegregation order.A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled unanimously that a lawyer representing a group of black parents and students did not present sufficient evidence to warrant overturning a 2007 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William R. Wilson Jr.
News analysis: Is a school rezoning lawsuit near?
There’s been talk of a rezoning lawsuit for almost a year now. And talk may soon turn to action. Leaders of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have threatened litigation since before rezoning measures were passed by Metro Schools’ Board of Education over the summer. Now, local NAACP president Marilyn Robinson says the organization is working on depositions.
Report: Integration lags, even as suburban schools add minorities
The nation’s suburban schools added 3.4 million students to their rolls over the past 15 years – and nearly all of them were minorities, according to a study released Tuesday. Using federal government data, Fry found that minority students made up 99 percent of the increase in suburban school enrollment between the 1993-94 and 2006-07 school years.
High dissed for bad reasons
Since the Supreme Court long ago settled the constitutionality of race-based school segregation, perhaps it should turn its attention to economic apartheid in education. The starkest examples of this economic divide can be found between the city and suburban schools. But even within the suburban jurisdictions, in school systems that are deemed sound, the chasms exist, pitting the old suburbs against the new.
School Board, NAACP clash on hiring
The head of Tangipahoa Parish’s NAACP chapter called on the parish School Board on Tuesday to fill two head football coaching vacancies with black candidates as a “good faith effort” to comply with a federal court order. But school officials had a different version of events in the longstanding school desegregation case and asserted a previously court-ordered, white-black 60/40 ratio was met in the late 1970s and a new hiring criteria without racial mandates can now be used.
Melancon the fighter
Despite tough cases, health problems, judge keeps going
A portrait of abolitionist Frederick Douglass is not usually a staple in a federal courtroom, but things are different in U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon’s court. Melancon is presiding over the more than 40-year-old desegregation cases in St. Landry and Evangeline parishes. “These types of cases are the most difficult any judge can have, because you affect so many people and you affect people’s most prize possessions – their children,” he said.
School district phasing out minority student transfer
A program that allowed minority students to transfer to schools outside their attendance zones is being phased out now that the Madison County School District (Mississippi) has been released from a federal desegregation order. Now school officials are phasing out the M-to-M program, citing transportation costs.
2007 Orange school rezonings called into question
Superintendent Blocker disappointed, and is seeking answers
At least two Orange County elementary schools that opened in 2007 may not have undergone a proper legal review from a court-ordered citizens committee that is supposed to monitor the racial balance among the district’s campuses.
Orange schools’ biracial-panel gaffe may keep feds’ oversight
A key requirement in a decades-old desegregation case against Orange County public schools went unheeded for years, casting a cloud over district decisions that determined the racial makeup of its schools, where new campuses would be built and, ultimately, where thousands of students would end up attending class. A 1970 federal-court order required that a special biracial citizens committee be created and maintained to monitor the district’s policies affecting racial balance in its schools.
Rezone all Orange schools, NAACP leader says
Piecemeal approach does not ensure fairness, Bracy says
The president of Orange County’s NAACP chapter is challenging public-school leaders to rezone attendance lines for the entire district — an action, he said, that would ensure that all students are treated fairly.
Surge in poorest schools predicted
CMS expects its number of high-poverty campuses to rise from 35 to 59 as families cope with job loss.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s number of extremely high-poverty schools – where at least three-fourths of students get lunch aid for low-income families – will surge from 35 this school year to 59 in August, officials predict. For the first time ever, high schools are expected to crack the 75 percent poverty level. That will bring an infusion of federal money to West Charlotte and the eastside Garinger, but it also opens the possibility that students will eventually be allowed to opt out of those schools if they don’t meet federal test-score goals.
Court weighs state’s duty to English learners
Third grade was a turning point for Miriam Flores’ daughter. On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in an appeal of the case, now called Horne v Flores. Filed by Arizona state legislators and the state superintendent of public instruction, they want to be freed from federal court oversight of the state’s programs for English learners and the obligation to spend potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with lower court rulings.
Turning back the clock? Fairfax Magnet School, a model of diversity, could lose its bus service
Children come from near and far to Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences. In all, more than a quarter of students at the campus inside the Capital Beltway travel from neighborhoods elsewhere in Fairfax County. The bus fleet reflects a plan crafted in the early 1990s to draw more middle-class and native English-speaking students to a school that had come to serve almost exclusively poor, immigrant families. The plan has paid off: Today the 950-student school touts a national reputation and a long waiting list of families who vie to be part of the Spanish immersion program or arts and science enrichment.
Avoyelles desegregation status conference set May 12
U.S. District Judge Dee Drell has called for a status conference on the Avoyelles Parish (Louisiana) school system’s desegregation case. The status conference, set for May 12 in Alexandria, follows a telephone conference held Monday between Drell and parties in the case — the Avoyelles Parish School Board, the U.S. Department of Justice and Allen Holmes. Holmes already has stated that he objects to the plan being proposed, while the U.S. Department of Justice was expected to issue its opinion on the plan last week but has not done so thus far.
Schools slipping back to segregation, new book finds
Urban school districts across the country have shifted back to managing segregated schools following the recent lifting of court-ordered desegregation plans, a new book finds.
The book, From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School Desegregation, was edited by Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development faculty Claire Smrekar and Ellen Goldring and published by Harvard University Press.
RISD seeks to remove court-mandated desegregation
Most RISD (Texas) schools have a racial and ethnic mix of students, but when it comes to teachers in the classroom, the numbers tell a different story. Eighty three percent all teachers for RISD are white.
Judge rules Galveston schools integrated
A federal judge has ruled that the Galveston, TX public school system is racially desegregated, ending a civil rights lawsuit dating back to 1959.
Board seeks lifting of desegregation order
The Richardson (Texas) school board voted unanimously Monday night to ask a federal court to lift a desegregation order imposed in 1970. The chair of the district Biracial Advisory Committee, created by the order, told the board that significant progress had been made but that there were still areas of concern.
DISD trustees postpone vote on cutting funding to learning centers
The Dallas school board postponed a controversial vote on cutting learning-center funding after hearing concerns from some trustees and angry members of the public Thursday night. The schools, created to provide good neighborhood campuses for black students who had been bused to predominantly white schools, would, in effect, be reduced to the same resources as regular schools.
Morehouse schools weigh closure after mill
The Morehouse Parish School Board is considering closing schools to make up for tax revenues it will lose because of the shutdown of the International Paper mill at Bastrop. The contingency plan approved by the board is expected to save about $3 million in operating expenses. It would close two elementary schools, cut 53 positions and rezone students. Since the system operates under a long-standing federal desegregation order, it must gain U.S. Justice Department approval before redrawing attendance zones.
Consolidation decision now in hands of judge
Lawrence County Schools (Georgia) Superintendent Heath Grimes took the stand for more than five hours last week during a school consolidation hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Decatur. The school hearing was held to examine what ramifications of consolidating Lawrence County schools would have on the 1966 court case, Patricia Horton v. Lawrence County Board of Education.
Judge approves consolidation
Mt. Hope, Speake, Hazlewood high schools will close
After months of debates, hearings and board meetings, the plan to consolidate Lawrence County schools will go through.
School diversity research to be unveiled
Monday marks the 20th anniversary of a lawsuit by parents and children from Hartford and West Hartford who challenged the racial and economic isolation in Connecticut’s capital city schools. A panel at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford will discuss new research on a voluntary, regional school desegregation program that was developed in the wake of the Sheff vs. O’Neill case.
Lead lawyer says desegregation process made
Civil rights attorney John Brittain says progress has been made in Connecticut toward desegregating and improving Hartford schools, two decades after a group of parents and their children sued the state.
Diversity flocks to suburbs
Middle Tennessee schools reflect ethnic flight
Families of different ethnicities and races are increasingly moving away from city life into the suburbs to look for quieter neighborhoods and more affordable homes. As they do, the diversity they bring to the community also appears in the schools. These predominantly white school districts in the Nashville area have witnessed the shift since the early 1990s and have seen an increase in diversity. Rutherford and Sumner counties’ school districts have seen the largest growth in the share of minority students.
Choices grow for kids in former busing zone in Wichita
More families in neighborhoods previously affected by the Wichita school district’s busing for integration policy might have choices in where to send their elementary school students next year. A district and community task force recently recommended extending and expanding the current busing policy. They said this will give them additional time and information to develop a solution to ensure racial diversity in schools.
Board: School has met criteria
The Evangeline Parish School Board is seeking partial freedom from federal oversight in the parish’s long-running desegregation case. The School Board has filed court documents seeking a federal judge’s OK that the school system has met desegregation requirements in its transportation services and extracurricular activities and in the assignment of teachers and staff.
Desegregation order in Texas
The Ector County Independent School District’s (Texas) magnet program, district boundaries and majority-to-minority transfers are all issues that could be impacted if ECISD is released from a 1982 desegregation order.
Persistent Racial Gap Seen in Students’ Test Scores
The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving black and Hispanic scores, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency. But nearly four decades of scores on the same test show that their most important academic gains came not in recent years, but during the desegregation efforts of the 1970s and 1980s.
City magnet school overhaul weighed
The city school board today will vote on overhauling admission procedures at the magnet schools and programs created about 30 years ago to help desegregate the Pittsburgh Public Schools. If the board approves the overhaul, the district for the 2010-11 school year will abandon the practice of reserving up to half of magnet slots for black students. Instead, the district will try to promote diversity with a weighted lottery that gives students extra chances for admission for meeting certain criteria, such as qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches or living in proximity to the magnet school.
Judge won’t end Champaign consent decree yet
The Champaign school district’s consent decree will not end June 30. Instead, according to an order issued Thursday afternoon by the federal judge overseeing the case, termination of the decree is suspended until several pending motions can be heard.
TUSD post-desegregation proposal includes ‘first- choice’ schools
What could be a final step in getting Tucson Unified School District released from a three-decades-old desegregation court order was approved by the board Tuesday. The TUSD Post-Unitary Status Plan was authorized for submission to U.S. District Judge David Bury by a 4-1 vote, with clerk of the board Mark Stegeman saying he had questions about the plan that should be addressed, “although overall I like it very much.”
Minneapolis superintendent’s statement
Reports from wide-ranging sources of information about a recent incident at Burroughs Community School in the Minneapolis Public School District and an outcry from community members of all different backgrounds with varying beliefs and conflicting opinions have brought deep-seated tensions and evidence of racial polarization in our community into front and center view. This is a painful picture to witness and we must not ignore it.
Wake can force all-year schedule
Schools’ tactics may fuel election
Wake County school leaders now have the legal authority to force students to attend year-round schools even if their parents don’t want them to.
31 specialized school campuses in Dallas face funding cuts
Dallas schools trustees on Tuesday discussed the possibility of cutting funds to 31 specialized campuses next year or risk losing $105 million in federal funding. To be eligible for the federal money, the district would need to cut funding at learning centers, vanguards, academies and magnet schools because per-pupil spending district-wide is not equitable.
Angry parents seek school assignment transfers
Angry parents questioning JCPS placement of elementary students
Jefferson County’s new student-assignment plan is prompting hundreds of angry parents to ask for transfers because their child is being sent to a different elementary school than they requested. A week after notices were sent out for roughly 12,000 incoming kindergartners and first-graders, officials with Jefferson County Public Schools are being assailed with hundreds of calls and transfer requests from parents questioning their assigned schools.
School board approves plan on integration
Despite vocal opposition, the Jefferson County Board of Education last night approved the final piece of its new, more diverse school-integration plan, capping a two-year effort to replace a desegregation policy that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down because it relied too heavily on race.
School district still weighing assignment options
It may be another year before the San Francisco Unified School District implements a new student assignment process, but district officials still want help narrowing down a list of assignment simulations so they can pick the right one. The eight simulations released last month range from a limited choice option that would mean children attend a school close to home to a complete choice option much like the current system, which doesn’t assign students based on geography.
School contracts lack diversity
Roanoke’s school system works with just a few minority- and women-owned businesses.
In the 18 months since Roanoke school officials committed to do more business with companies owned by women and minorities, those businesses still represent a negligible fraction of the district’s total spending.
Tangi desegregation case lawyer wants out
One of three plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Tangipahoa Parish public school desegregation case is seeking to withdraw from the case, citing “irreconcilable issues,” court records say. Gideon T. Carter III, a Baton Rouge lawyer, has asked U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle to withdraw him from the case.
|Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, court decisions, comments or suggestions for topics to: The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at email@example.com.
We are looking for any information regarding changes to transportation routes that may adversely affect racial diversity in light of increasing fuel costs. Please let us know if these issues are being discussed in your communities.
Additional Resources for School Integration
**NEW** Book: From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School Desegregation, edited by Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development faculty Claire Smrekar and Ellen Goldring and published by Harvard University Press.
“Bringing Children Together: Magnet Schools and Public Housing Redevelopment”
, and will be up shortly on the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Web site (
). The report stems from a February 2008 conference on public housing redevelopment, magnet schools and justice reinvestment.
“Court-Mandated Education Reform: The San Francisco Experience and the Shaping of Educational Policy after Seattle-Louisville and Ho v. SFUSD“.
Research article examining the arc of desegregation in San Francisco Unified, written by former court monitor, Stuart Biegel, with important implications for school districts around the country in the wake of the PICS decision.
Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race In School
The New Press announces the publication of Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race In School, edited by Mica Pollock. How should teachers and parents respond when children ask challenging questions about race? How should teachers handle the use of the “N-word” or discuss “achievement gaps” with colleagues? How can teachers avoid unwittingly making children of color speak on behalf of their entire group? While numerous books exist about race and race theory, Everyday Antiracism puts theory into practice by offering specific strategies for combating racism in the classroom. This book is available to order through Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.
Sheff Web Site,
– This Web provides information regarding the Sheff desegregation case in Connecticut. To view the results of a recent statewide poll revealing broad based support for interdistrict desegregation programs, please visit
BuildingChoice Web Site,
– This Web site is designed to help implement and maintain public school choice programs. Included are promising practices from a range of programs, tools, and links to many additional resources to support your choice efforts.
The School Law Blog,
– Visit the School Law Blog for an important discussion of news and analysis of legal developments affecting schools, educators, and parents. Mark Walsh has been covering legal issues in education for more than 15 years for Education Week. He writes about school-related cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and in lower courts.
Still Looking to the Future: Voluntary K-12 School Integration; A Manual for Parents, Educators and Advocates. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP) are distributing the 2nd edition of their K-12 school integration manual which addresses the practical questions of what can be done to promote diversity and address the harms of racial isolation in schools.
To download the manual, visit
To request hard copies or CDs of the manual and supplemental materials, please send an e-mail with your contact information and the number of copies requested to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preserving Integration Options for Latino Students. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP/PDC) are currently disseminating their collaboratively-written guide for parents, advocates and educators interested in promoting diversity and addressing the harms of Latino racial isolation in their schools.
To download the manual or for additional information, please visit CRP/PDF’s Web site at
The Integration Report – Staff Members
Editor: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Editorial Assistant: Jared Sanchez
Editorial Committee: Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, Laurie Russman
Webmaster: John Khuu
The Integration Report is produced by the Initiative on School Integration at The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, and is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.