September 22, 2010
On September 24, 2009, with the support of Chicago Public Schools’ former CEO Arne Duncan, a federal judge ended a thirty-year consent decree governing the district. 1 The shadow of the 2007 Parents Involved Supreme Court decision loomed over the judge’s action, which quickly resulted in a significant policy shift for Chicago’s extensive system of magnet schools. The magnet admissions process, long governed by race-conscious criteria, switched to a procedure that eliminated the consideration of race altogether, relying instead on socioeconomic indicators. This issue of TIR examines the story behind this policy change, and discusses the impact of the decision on Chicago’s magnet and selective enrollment schools one year later.
As Chicago’s consent decree came to a close, discussion about magnet admissions policies intensified. For many years, the district’s magnet schools considered the individual race of students in the application process. In non-competitive magnets, a race-based lottery system governed admissions. Selective enrollment programs, where entrance depended on test scores or other academic requirements, could award no more than 35% of their seats to white students (who make up just 9% of students in the district).2 These practices were legally permissible while Chicago Public Schools (CPS) remained under the consent decree, even though the 2007 Parents Involved ruling limited the use of race in student assignment policies.
After the decree was lifted, however, a new magnet admissions policy needed to be formulated, one that did not hinge directly upon the racial background of individual students. Other school districts across the country have tailored their policies to meet the demands of Parents Involved, employing a combination of demographic factors like parent education levels, income, home language and race.3 In addition, some districts have added a geographic element to assignment plans that allows student characteristics to be considered as a group (e.g. taking into consideration the racial and socioeconomic makeup of neighborhoods), thus sidestepping the use of individual features.4 Yet CPS did not choose to pursue strategies that would have considered race alongside other factors, hiring instead outside experts to craft a plan that would rely solely on socioeconomic indicators (for a discussion of SES diversity plans, see TIR Issues 4 and 5).
Having signaled that the district would pursue a purely SES-based policy even prior to the end of the decree,5 officials released a tentative proposal for magnet admissions procedures in the fall of 2009. The plan sought to admit all siblings of current magnet students, and then ceded more priority to students and applicants who lived in close proximity to magnet schools—reserving 50% of the seats for students within a mile and a half of the school.6 The remaining applicants would be placed in a lottery, with available slots evenly divided among four tiers of socioeconomic groups, based on census tract data pertaining to adult education levels, income, home language and single parent households, among other factors. Selective enrollment high schools would see the caps limiting the number of admitted white students lifted, and could enroll roughly 40% of their entering class based on point rankings assigned to criteria like test scores or grades. Remaining space would be allotted to students based on rankings derived from their test scores and/or grades within the four socioeconomic status tiers created from census tract indicators.7 In other words, more than half of the selective enrollment would be made up of students who competed for entrance against other students only in their segment of the four SES brackets.
In the months leading up to the implementation of the new plan, the district’s CEO assured the community that an in-house analysis indicated that, “that [no] one group will suffer. We will maintain the same levels of inclusion we have today.8
Yet the public swiftly reacted against the district’s proposal, spurred in part by a Chicago Tribune analysis showing that the new plan would threaten diversity levels by reducing available slots at magnet schools by as much as 14 percent, and perhaps even more at popular magnets. 9
Given patterns of residential segregation in Chicago, the increased proportion of seats going to students in close proximity to magnet programs had the potential to negatively impact racial diversity.10 Moreover, the Chicago Sun Times conducted a separate analysis showing that, due to the plan’s reliance on census tract data, students from wealthier households in gentrifying neighborhoods could be lumped into the same SES tier as students from high poverty areas. This situation would thus have the effect of pitting the test scores of upper income students – keeping in mind that family income is often highly correlated with parental education levels, which are both linked to student outcomes – against those of low-income students in the selective enrollment high schools.11
In response to some of these fears, district officials shifted course, adjusting the magnet criteria slightly to reduce the emphasis on neighborhood proximity. Several months later, in March 2010, CPS also issued guidelines allowing principals of selective enrollment high schools discretion in selecting up to 5% of their entering class. Race could be among one of several factors considered.12 In addition, CPS officials vowed to revisit the new plan after one year to review its effectiveness.
Impact of policy shift one year later
Despite the district’s efforts to accommodate community concerns, evidence from the past year suggests that the new policy corresponded to a decrease in racial diversity at a number of schools. According to a follow up analysis from the Chicago Tribune, “about three-quarters of selective and magnet schools that are already majority white will grow more segregated under the one year pilot.”13 The effects of the plan were particularly prominent in selective high schools where the cap on white enrollment was lifted. White admission to these schools increased by more than 44% in some instances.
Stakeholders point to several factors contributing to the climb in white enrollment at magnet and selective enrollment schools. First, the continued weight placed on proximity to magnet programs, despite the district’s accommodations last year, may have resulted in less diversity at magnet programs located in predominately white neighborhoods. And second, for selective schools, the lifting of the white enrollment cap may have led to more white enrollees, in addition to the fact that one of the four SES tiers captures students in upper income brackets, meaning that roughly 15% of seats at selective high schools are being set aside for wealthier students.14 Since race and income correspond fairly closely in the area,15 this means that a substantial number of students admitted from the upper SES tier are also white.
What’s next for magnet schools in CPS?
Under the consent decree, the magnet school system in Chicago, while not perfect, represented one of the district’s more successful attempts to achieve the promise of Brown.16 The troubling trends surfacing in relation to the new policy suggest that diversity levels at the district’s magnet schools are declining. Officials have repeatedly vowed to revisit the magnet admissions procedures after one year, even after modestly adjusting the plan last year. Based on the evidence, it looks as though further calibration may be in order. CPS might consider supplementing current socioeconomic indicators with racial and ethnic data from the census, in addition to further de-emphasizing the preferences for students living close to magnet schools. To alleviate issues with selective school enrollment, officials might modify the four SES tiers to simply capture the range of families living in poverty, rather than a broad range of both poverty and wealth. Community input should, of course, be sought. Ultimately, CPS must continue its efforts to make high quality, racially diverse schooling options equally available to students.
The Integration Report
1 Karp, S. (2009 August 14). New filing in Chicago schools desegregation case. Catalyst Chicago. Available at:
2 Karp, S. (2009 Sept. 24). Federal judge ends Chicago schools desegregation decree. Catalyst Chicago. Available at:
3 NAACP LDF/Civil Rights Project. (2008). Still Looking to the Future: Voluntary K-12 Integration.
http://naacpldf.org/files/publications/Still_Looking_to_the_Future_Voluntary_K-12_School_Integration;_A_Manual_for_Parents,_Educators_and_Advocates.pdf Chavez, L. & Frankenberg, F. (2009). Integration Defended: Berkeley Unified’s Strategy to Maintain School Diversity. UCLA Civil Rights Project/ UC Berkeley: Warren Institute. http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/integration-defended-berkeley-unified2019s-strategy-to-maintain-school-diversity/chavez-integration-defended-berkeley-2009.pdf
5 Richard Kahlenberg, a senior Fellow at the Century Foundations, was brought in to help design a new plan in 2008. Harris, R. (2009 Nov. 17). Q & A with Richard Kahlenberg, consultant on magnet schools admissions. Chicago Catalyst.
6 Mack, K. (2009 Dec. 16). Chicago school board fine-tunes magnet admissions. Chicago Tribune.
7 Chicago Public Schools. http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/07_20_2010_PR1.aspx
8 Spielman, F. (2009 Dec 1). CPS chief: New admissions policy ‘not racist at all.’ Chicago Sun Times http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/1913983,cps-ceo-admissions-policy-not-racist-120209.article
9 Ahmed, A. & Germuska, J. (2009 Dec. 13). Chicago magnet schools might undergo shake-up. Chicago Tribune.
10 The need for transportation to break the link between school and housing integration has long been recognized as fundamental to desegregation strategies (Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971), including magnet schools.
11Golab, A. & Rossi, R. (2010 Jan. 24). New fast track to CPS’ top flight high schools? Economic diversity can hurt poor kids in gentrifying areas. Chicago Sun Times. Available at: http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/2007536,CST-NWS-skuls24.article
12 Chicago Public Schools. http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/03_17_2010_PR2.aspx
13 Ahmed, A. (2010 July 24). White influx seen at Chicago’s elite elementary schools: New rules will increase white majorities at many top grade schools, according to CPS figures. Chicago Tribune.
15 Harris, R. (2009 Nov 17). Q&A with Richard Kahlenberg, consultant on magnet school admissions. Catalyst Chicago.
16 Yednack, C. & Little, D. (2009 Dec. 20). City schools’ new criteria for diversity raise fears. Chicago News Cooperative. Available at: http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/city-schools%E2%80%99-new-criteria-for-diversity-raise-fears/
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White Influx Seen At Chicago’s Elite Elementary Schools. New Rules Will Increase White Majorities At Many Top Grade Schools, According To CPS Figures
The city’s top elementary schools are on pace to become more white under a new admissions plan that relies on socioeconomic factors instead of race, according to a Tribune analysis. About three-quarters of selective and magnet schools that are already majority white will grow more segregated under the one-year pilot, which was created after the district was released from a federal mandate to racially integrate last September.
Some Schools Lose Diversity Under New Admissions Policy
An overhaul in the admissions process for Chicago’s selective public schools had little impact on overall diversity, but individual buildings show much more variance — in some cases growing more segregated for the 2010-11 school year, CPS officials said Tuesday. Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman cautioned that the data are very preliminary and could change when the school year starts. He conceded that some schools are losing diversity. “You see some schools that are losing integration at a faster clip than before,” said Huberman, adding that racial integration is a goal of the school district.
Neighborhood Schools Bill Would Jeopardize JCPS Magnet Schools, Superintendent Says
Jefferson County Public Schools (KY) Superintendent Sheldon Berman warned Thursday that public school choice would be eliminated and the district’s popular magnets would be in jeopardy if a neighborhood schools bill pre-filed in the state legislature this week is made law. “The kind of chaos this would create is extraordinary,” Berman told the editorial board. “All of our resides areas and boundary lines would need to be changed, and it would absolutely re-segregate our schools.”
Bill Would Let Kentucky Kids Attend Closest School
Some Fear Return Of Segregation
Children would have the right to attend the public school closest to their home under a bill two Kentucky lawmakers prefiled Wednesday. Senate President David Williams and Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville said they filed the bill for the 2011 session after receiving “a lot of phone calls from parents and concerned citizens” after a judge ruled that state law gives school boards, not parents, the right to decide which school a student attends.
Angry Parents Lambast JCPS School Board Over Busing Problems
Dozens of angry Jefferson County parents showed up Monday night to voice their displeasure to school board members over the school district’s student-assignment plan and busing problems last week that resulted in hundreds of students spending extra hours on the bus. But those who addressed the board during the four-hour meeting said the district’s new student-assignment plan — and the new transportation plan implemented over the summer to help facilitate the assignment plan and minimize long bus rides — needs to go.
Attorney Plans To Reopen Case Against JCPS
Another effort is underway to reopen a lawsuit against Jefferson County Public Schools for the Student Assignment Plan. Louisville attorney Teddy Gordon released a statement saying he will file a motion Monday to reopen the case against JCPS. Earlier this month, Judge Irv Maze dismissed the lawsuit Gordon previously filed. The attorney claimed in the lawsuit the Jefferson County school desegregation plan violates state law. The statute states children need to be enrolled in the school nearest to their home.
Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against JCPS Assignment Plan
Parents are in tears after a judge dismisses a lawsuit challenging the JCPS student assignment plan. “It’s very emotional,” cries Belinda Abernathy. “It shouldn’t be this hard to go to kindergarten.” She and 12 other parents had their lawsuit dismissed Thursday afternoon. They claim state law requires children to be enrolled in the school nearest to their homes. But in his ruling, Judge Irv Maze said the issue comes down to wording. The statute originally said “parents or legal guardians shall be permitted to enroll their children for attendance in the public school nearest their home.” But in 1990, the State Assembly took out the words “for attendance.” Judge Maze says because of that deletion, students are not required to attend the school closest to them. Attorneys for parents plan to appeal.
JCPS School Board Races Draw Crowded Ballot
Eleven candidates met Tuesday’s filing deadline to seek one of four Jefferson County Board of
Education seats up for election in the November. Only one currently serving board member will run unopposed: Linda Duncan, a former school administrator who has represented southern Louisville’s District 5 since 2006. “I think student assignment is likely to be one of the more significant issues in the campaign,”
JCPS Adds Buses And Routes To Shorten Student Travel Times
Vowing to reduce long ride times for its students, Jefferson County Public Schools has added 76 buses and 25 routes for the new school year — and reduced the number of students who have to switch buses before they get to school. The changes are being made as the district came under pressure from some parents who were unhappy with the amount of time their children are spending on buses under the student assignment plan that began last year.
Parents Await Outcome Of Assignment Plan Suit
Some parents are waiting for the outcome of JCPS’ controversial student assignment plan, which is being challenged in court. Now thirteen families are part of the lawsuit. It was a packed courtroom as families testified why they want Jefferson County Public School’s controversial student assignment plan to be thrown out.
Nine More Parents Have Joined A Lawsuit Challenging The Jefferson County Public Schools’ Student Assignment Plan
It brings to ten the number of parents who contend the school district is in violation of a state law that allows them to enroll their children in public schools closest to their homes. Attorney Teddy Gordon originally filed the suit on behalf of a parent in Jeffersontown whose child was denied admission to a nearby school. He says the state law he cites was never repealed and is no longer trumped by Jefferson County’s federal desegregation plan.
NAACP: Give JCPS Plan A Chance To Work
The Louisville branch of the NAACP has released a report outlining its position on the Jefferson County Public Schools’ new student assignment plan. NAACP Education Committee Chairwoman Kathryn Wallace says the group and its ally organizations generally support the new plan, which uses a combination of race, income and household education level in determining assignments. Wallace says the group is concerned that, among other things, parents who complain loudly enough can have their children placed where they want them, a claim JCPS officials deny.
Shelby County Schools Looking To Rezone In Northeast Part Of County
The Shelby County Schools (TN) system is preparing to redraw its attendance zones — again.
The 47,000-student school district undergoes a rezoning almost annually and it almost always attracts heated debate. Annexation, crowding and the opening of a new school all drive the need to redraw attendance boundaries. However, school officials are feeling confident this round as they enter into the district’s first rezoning since a 1963 federal desegregation order was removed last year. Board members often cited that order as the culprit when making unpopular decisions.
SFUSD’s New Student Assignment Plan
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is inaugurating a new method of assigning students to schools this year. The design of this new policy has been underway for many years, fueled by confusion with the previous process and the fact that it failed in its goal to diversify schools and programs. Change was required to address both of these issues and so last spring the Board of Education (BOE) finally adopted the current policy, which means that families looking for schools for their children for the 2011-2012 school year have a new set of rules and procedures to get a handle on.
In Open Enrollment, SF Parents Scramble for Schools
District attempts to strike balance between convenience and diversity
It was the first morning of June in San Francisco, but the men at the head of the line were standing glumly in their winter jackets, cupping their coffees, their beanies pulled low. Getting a child into the right private school may take connections and cash, but getting a child into a good public school in this city, as a few of the bleary-eyed parents here told it, is a road paved with some pretty hard cement. Every summer, the district’s Educational Placement Center opens its doors to families with children who were overlooked, for whatever reason, in the school assignment process. But the vast majority of the parents who showed up already had an assignment – and a compelling reason why their child should be assigned to another school, preferably one with better test scores.
New Map Drawn For Schools
The lines have been drawn for school assignments, but the draft documents may not end the controversy about where kids in San Francisco go for their education. It’s not the determining factor — sibling preference and standardized tests have larger pulls — but a family’s address will play a bigger role in the campus-assignment process. After decades of debate about school assignments and following more than two years of discussions, the new system, which was based on socio-economic indicators, was approved last spring. The system for 2011-12 will make it clearer which middle school a child will attend based on the elementary school they go to. An estimated 58 out of the San Francisco Unified School District’s 72 elementary schools will have new attendance areas, according to documents. Attendance areas were created based on the size of a school and the surrounding student population. The remaining 14 — many of which are K-8, language immersion or have specific admittance criteria students must meet — are considered citywide schools.
Wake School Board Chairman Will Likely Not Seek Re-Election
Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta said Thursday that he is 95 percent sure he will not run for re-election when his term ends in November 2011. “I am a retired guy. I would like to look for happiness out there,” Margiotta said. Margiotta has made deciding votes in favor of the district’s controversial proposal to move away from a decade-old policy of busing students for the purposes of diversity toward a policy of community-based student assignment. He held a minority position on the board for years, before a pivotal election last fall changed the balance of power. The new majority elected him chairman as one of their first acts in office.
Margiotta Asks Business Leaders For Cooperation On School Changes
Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta defended today the elimination of the socioeconomic-based student assignment policy as he called on business leaders who supported the old diversity policy to cooperate with school leaders. Jim Beck, chairman of the Chamber’s education committee, asked Margiotta about finding a way to honor the values of people in the community who value diversity while honoring the board majority’s values. Also during today’s meeting, Margiotta, 72, whose district includes Apex and Holly Springs, told the crowd that he’s 95 percent leaning against running for reelection next year. Critics of the board majority would have to win all five board seats on the ballot next year to regain control.
Gov. Explains Decision To Enter Wake Schools Debate
Governor Beverly Perdue visited Wiley Elementary School in Raleigh Wednesday to greet students on the first day of class, and she also took time out to explain why she weighed in on the Wake County schools diversity debate last weekend. “I’ve weighed in as a citizen since the day it happened,” said Perdue. Some have criticized the Governor for praising Reverend William Barber, the state president of the NAACP, Saturday when she presented him with the Long Leaf Pine Award.
Wake County Struggles to Balance School Zones
Wake County’s school board is working to divide the county into student attendance zones, but deciding how many and how big they should be is proving tough. A larger number of smaller zones would create more racially and economically polarized districts, while larger zones would mean fewer students could attend a school close to home, according to a News & Observer analysis of new demographic data. Board Chairman Ron Margiotta has said he has no intention of creating high-poverty schools under the new plan, but the demographic breakdowns produced by The N&O show that concentrations of minority and low-income people across the county will make it difficult to keep that from happening.
Diversity Puts Cary And Raleigh Schools High On List
The Wake County school system helped put Raleigh and Cary on a national website’s list of top cities for public schools. GreatSchools ranked Raleigh No. 1 for public schools among large U.S. cities with 300,000 or more people. Cary ranked third for public schools among midsized cities of between 100,000 and 300,000 people. GreatSchools, which collects information on public and private schools to encourage parent choice, praised the Wake school system for its socioeconomic diversity policy. “But the future of this stellar district is in doubt,” according to GreatSchools. “An election last fall changed the makeup of the school board, and the new board recently voted to end the diversity policy.”
Wake Schools Can Spend Magnet Money That Renewed Diversity Debate
The Wake County schools have no easy road ahead in paying for educating 140,000 students, but it does at least have permission to spend $1.3 million with the approval of a federal magnet school grant extension that figured in the strident debate about student assignment policy.
When the school board voted earlier this year to seek the extension, it was in the process of the controversial change away from socio-economic diversity as a criterion in assigning students to schools. The grant application included a board-approved statement saying it remains committed to voluntary desegregation in schools and a copy of the official policy in effect at the time, which included diversity. Opponents of the policy change charged that it was disingenuous to include the policy while in the process of dropping diversity, and they challenged the supporters by asking if they would later send a copy of the new, community-based assignment policy.
Wake Schools Seeks Feedback On Student Assignment
The Wake County Public School System is seeking feedback on how schools could be grouped under the district’s new student assignment policy. A set of sample maps were posted Thursday on the school system’s website, along with lists of schools in each zone and charts that compare projected student enrollment in 2012-13 with the available school capacity in each zone of the appropriate map.
Diversity Differences May Hobble ‘Controlled Choice’
Although a national proponent of the “controlled choice”; assignment model considers diversity a key to success, Wake County’s school board chairman said Wednesday that race or income will not decide which schools students attend. Michael Alves, a Massachusetts consultant who has helped districts with the controlled choice approach for decades, said Wednesday in Raleigh that such a plan has to take diversity into account to gain broad support. Alves spent Monday through Wednesday in the Triangle meeting with everyone from a school board committee to local business leaders to state legislators to the Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP. Brought to town by the chamber and the nonprofit Wake Education Partnership, Alves walked into a blistering community argument. He was here to offer his take on the possible future of Wake schools to a school board majority that took diversity off the table in March before starting to craft a new assignment plan. http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/07/29/602468/diversity-differences-may-hobble.html
Groups Opposing Wake School Board Meet Again
Demonstrators arrested at a recent meeting of the Wake County school board, including the head of the state NAACP and the pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, have gathered again today to state their objections to the board’s recent actions and to show their community connections.
Battle Over N.C. Busing Heats Up North Carolina School Board Voted To Stop Busing Students From Lower Income Neighborhoods To Wealthier Ones And Vice Versa
In a scene reminiscent of the 1960s, thousands took to the streets in Raleigh this week, accusing the Wake County school board of “resegregating” the schools. “;The five members of our school board are trying to make socioeconomic diversity, which is a proven research friend of school excellence, a dirty word. It’s wrong and it’s very dangerous,” Rev. Dr. William Barber told ABC News. Rev. Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, was one of 19 people arrested at a school board meeting following the protest. Proponents of the policy say accounts of students forced to travel great distances are highly exaggerated. They point out that of the more than 140,000 students in the county, 86 percent attend a school within 5 miles from home, another 12 percent attend magnet schools, leaving only 3 percent of children who have to travel more than 5 miles to get to school.
“Controlled Choice” Sets Script For School Zones
Wake County parents will likely need to start doing homework to choose their children’s schools, instead of having the decision made for them on the basis of their address. Members of a key school board committee Tuesday praised an approach that would drop the longstanding idea of assigning neighborhoods to a specific school. Instead, the county would be divided into a number of new attendance zones, with parents choosing among several schools and the system making final decisions based on parental requests. Details of how the new plan would work cannot come soon enough for John Wood, a real estate agent in Cary. He said agents aren’t able to tell newcomers now where their children will be going to school.
Hundreds Rally Against Wake Schools Plan
Hundreds of marchers from the state NAACP, local churches, student groups and civil rights organizations took to downtown Raleigh streets this morning, rallying at the State Capitol to protest the dismantling of a Wake school diversity policy they believe will lead to de facto resegregation.
Legislature To Study School Diversity’s Effect
The battle over the Wake County’s move toward neighborhood schools is moving into the hands of state legislators, who could recommend that school districts adopt diversity policies. One of the last acts of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly was to create a legislative study commission charged with seeing whether diversity helps public schools and whether the state should help it along by changing the way schools are funded.
N.C. NAACP President Responds To Wake Co. School Board Meeting Ban
The president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP spoke out after he and three others were arrested during a Wake County School Board meeting last month. Rev. William Barber and the others were charged with trespassing for disrupting the June 15 meeting. Following the arrests, officials sent a letter warning them to stay off school property or face legal action. In response, Barber issued a statement Friday which said, “;let them send us a thousand letters. What they need to do is send a letter of apology for wrecking the nationally acclaimed diversity policy and slowing the struggle to improve excellent educational opportunities for poor and minority children.”
Wake Test Gains Renew Diversity Flap
Widespread increases in Wake County’s student test scores have become the latest issue in the school district’s contentious school diversity fight. Preliminary results released on Wednesday showed higher performance by Wake students in elementary, middle and high school on state exams this past school year, with the racial achievement gap narrowing. Backers of efforts to mandate diversity in the state’s largest school district say the academic gains show that the Wake school board majority that swept into office last fall didn’t need to discard the decades-long policy of maintaining socioeconomic balance in schools.
Opponents Rally Against Wake Schools Assignment Plan
“Our children are being used as tools of division,” proclaimed NAACP state chapter President Rev. William Barber in a passionate speech Tuesday in downtown Raleigh. Leaders of the North Carolina NAACP and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches of the eastern district spoke out to encourage other civic, religious, parent and student groups take part in a mass demonstration against the planned policy change that they say will lead to resegregated schools in Wake County. The group is protesting the school board’s decision earlier this year to move away from a system where students are bused to help balance socio-economic diversity across the school system in favor of assigning students closer to home.
Durham Clergy Join Diversity Clash In Wake
A group of 48 Durham and Chapel Hill clergy members stepped into the Wake County school diversity fight Friday. The Concerned Clergy of Durham issued a statement calling on the Wake school board to restore the recently discarded policy of trying to keep school enrollments socioeconomically balanced. The group argued that the elimination of the diversity policy in favor of neighborhood schools will lead to resegregation.
Raleigh Mayor Studies Legality Of Student Assignment Policy
Raleigh’s mayor wants to put together a panel of experts to look at the legality of the Wake County School Board’s new student assignment policy. Mayor Charles Meeker, who is also an attorney, is concerned ending the system’s diversity policy could resegregate schools and create some high-poverty schools. He wants to form a panel of top educators and lawyers to review the board’s new student assignment plan once its finalized to make sure it provides all students with the same quality of education.
Wake School Board Aims For Tighter Rein On Superintendent
It was clear from conversation among Wake County school board members Thursday that they want more say in the running of the state’s largest school district when a new superintendent is selected. “I’d like the board to be able to pull back on those reins a little” if a superintendent wants to make moves that do not accord with the board’s thinking, Policy Committee Chair Debra Goldman said during a discussion of possible revisions to the superintendent’s job description, which is laid out in board policy. Superintendent Del Burns resigned, effective June 30, after splitting with the board on its decision to eliminate socioeconomic diversity as a criterion for school assignments. After Burns told them he was leaving, board members voted to put him on administrative leave, and Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens has been at the helm since. A search firm is looking for candidates to take the job.
Enloe’s Name Caught Up In Diversity Debate
Both sides in the contentious debate about the direction of the Wake County schools on Tuesday claimed the heritage of the 1960s civil rights movement to advance their causes. Members of the school board majority, who have recently ditched the district’s decades-old policy of busing students for diversity, said Tuesday they want to explore renaming William G. Enloe High School after an African-American. They said they were responding to recent comments by their opponents about the racial policies of the Raleigh mayor whose name the school bears. The suggestion about Enloe drew opposition from a UNC-Chapel Hill historian and from contemporaries who called Enloe a figure of his day who worked over time to shed Raleigh’s segregated past.
Arrests Anticipated For Schools Rally
State civil rights leaders encouraged people to risk arrest as they announced plans Monday for a July 20 mass demonstration to protest the end of Wake County’s school diversity policy. The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, said the rally will be held in Raleigh to coincide with that day’s school board meeting. At last week’s board meeting, Barber was among four people who were arrested on trespassing charges for disrupting the meeting. As groups organize for the demonstration and other events, Barber asked the biracial crowd of more than 230 people at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh on Monday to search their conscience to see if they’re willing to engage in acts of civil disobedience.
School Board Committee Approves Changes To Diversity Busing Rules
A key Wake County school board committee gave staff the go-ahead today to begin developing the outline of a new student assignment plan that would end involuntarily long-distance busing for diversity. Under the new model, Wake would be divided into a still-to-be-determined number of community assignment zones with contiguous borders. This would end the practice now used to send thousands of low-income students to schools outside of their community. This step is part of the process being pushed by the new school board majority to move Wake toward community schools. Last month, the board eliminated references to socioeconomic diversity in the student assignment policy and instead made family proximity to school a priority. A resolution adopted in March gave the school board nine to 15 months to develop a new community-based schools plan.
Wake School Board Erases Last Diversity Provision From Its Policies
The Wake County school board Tuesday erased the last vestige of its longtime bid for socioeconomic diversity in the system’s schools, approving a policy change that removed diversity or student achievement as reasons its staff should approve transfer requests. The action came with less passion among board members and without public demonstrations that had accompanied previous votes to strip the diversity goal from the 140,000-student system’s assignment policy.
Battle Over Schools Moves To Commission
Ending Wake County school’s socio-economic diversity busing policy has some in the community so riled up that attention has now turned to the county commissioners. Several members up for re-election in November and some say they could be the first to feel the political effects. Whoever controls the Wake County Commission controls the money–even for schools.
Unitary Status Divides Public
6 Share Thoughts In Lawsuit Hearing
More than 50 Jackson-Madison County (TN) residents attended a two-hour hearing Monday morning on the possible dismissal of the public school district’s 47-year-old desegregation lawsuit. Six people out of the crowd shared their thoughts in the public comment portion of the hearing, which was held after the attorneys presented their arguments in favor of the district being granted unitary status.
NAACP Hears Questions
Leaders Urge Community To Attend Court Hearing
Members of the Jackson-Madison County branch of the NAACP are encouraging members of the community to attend Monday’s public hearing on the resolution of the public schools desegregation lawsuit. A federal judge has already granted Jackson-Madison County Schools with partial unitary status on the issues of transportation, facilities, staff assignment and extracurricular activities.
Motion Filed For Unitary Status; Parties Agree No Practical Remedies To Eliminate Enrollment Disparities
Attorneys filed a joint motion asking for full unitary status and dismissal of Jackson-Madison County Schools’ 47-year-old desegregation case on Monday evening. This filing comes less than a week before U.S. District Court Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. will hold a public hearing in federal court in Jackson. Mays has said he is open to hearing the thoughts of the community before he issues his ruling in the case. Two of the plaintiffs in the case–Brenda Monroe-Moses, who is the lead plaintiff in the case, and Frank Walker–have sent letters asking that he not grant full unitary status at this time.
Speakers Illustrate Pain Of Desegregation
The pain of memory — and the memory of pain — was etched on Janice Mack Guess’ face, nearly 50 years after. Her voice fraught with emotion, Guess was recalling the early days of integration of Durham’s public schools. She was telling a hushed audience at the auditorium of the main branch of the public library Sunday what it was like to be one of the first black students at previously all-white Brogden Junior High School in 1964. It was “a very traumatic year,” Guess said. “I just didn’t understand how people, how adults, could treat children like they did. It hurt so much. I didn’t understand where all the hatred came from.”
Diversity On Display As Lee County Schools Open
When classes start Monday, minorities will no longer be the minority in Lee County (FL) public schools. They’ll be the majority. Administration has been eyeing the demographic swing for years, caused by a combination of white flight and an influx of minority children moving here from other districts, states and countries. Last year, 20 Florida counties, including Collier and DeSoto, had school systems where minority students outnumbered whites.
District Strives To Shift Focus To The Students
In Kansas City a transition has begun, jarring in its impact — 40 percent of the schools out of service, 1,000 district employees out of work, seventh-graders routed to high schools — and draconian in scope, only because the district of old could not bring itself to shed its skin gradually. However obvious the well-being of students sounds, apparently it got lost in the turmoil, shouting and shuffling of 26 superintendents in 40 years. In that span the Kansas City district went from financial famine to feast — with a $2 billion desegregation effort that fizzled in the 1990s. Now it’s back to famine.
BOE Hopes To End Court Order
The Decatur County Board of Education (GA) took action Thursday night with the hopes of ending 43 years of federal judicial supervision. After meeting in a closed session with board attorney Bruce Kirbo Jr., the board voted, with board member Clarissa Kendrick being the only dissenting vote, to give Kirbo the authorization to file a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to end the school desegregation lawsuit initiated in May 1967. The reorganization of the school system last year, resulting in the closure of Lillian E. Williams Elementary School, opening of the new high school, and the consolidation of grades five through eight, would be considered the final step for dismissal of the court order.
If The World Is Fast Becoming A Global Village, South High School Is A Microcosm Of That Cultural Shift
The first day of school for ninth-graders was like a visit to the United Nations, with kids from 40 different countries speaking more than 60 different languages in the hallways. “A lot of people talk about diversity, but we really embrace it,” said Stephen Wera, principal of the school, which sits at the south end of Washington Park in Denver. Last year, 33 percent of the students at South were English-language learners, compared with 31 percent district wide. After English and Spanish, the languages most widely spoken at South are Arabic, Nepali, Karen, Somali, French, Russian and Burmese. South graduated 252 students in 2009, or 67.4 percent, compared with 52.7 percent for the district.
Bus Stops Cause Clash
High school freshman Mariah Gurney would have to walk almost eight miles if she wanted to ride the bus to her School of Choice. Mariah’s father, Dante Jackson, thinks that is unreasonable, but his request for a new route was denied by the transportation department this week. That lead him to complain Wednesday to the Lafayette Parish School Board (LA), and if the issue isn’t resolved he plans to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division. “This is the integration — desegregation — plan,” Jackson said Thursday of the Schools of Choice program, “and how can we utilize that plan if we have to go so far to the bus stop?”
Berkeley Schools To Get Help Bridging Diversity Gaps
The Berkeley school district plans to hire a supervisor charged with closing what officials call the district’s widening chasm between its white teachers and administrators and its ethnically and racially diverse students and parents. The school board approved the move Wednesday night without comment. It had been recommended by a panel of city and school leaders citing “systems changes” needed to close the academic achievement gap between students of color and their white counterparts. The manager of culture and linguistics, who has not yet been hired, will be paid $63,000 to $80,000 a year.
St. Helena Plaintiffs Seek Ruling On Schools
Plaintiffs in an ongoing school desegregation lawsuit against the St. Helena Parish School Board (LA) want a federal judge to allow St. Helena students to attend schools in adjacent parishes. Emergency relief is necessary because of “hazardous conditions at St. Helena Central Elementary School and St. Helena Central High School,” according to the motion to be heard today by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady of the Middle District of Louisiana. Such unstable and hazardous conditions include “asbestos laden tiles, termite infested classrooms, ceilings with excessive leaking and water intrusion, walls with large holes and excessive leaking and exposed wires that emit toxins and gas,” the motion states.
School Redistricting Information Session Tonight
A public information session is scheduled for tonight regarding the most recent developments in the ongoing redistricting of Pitt County Schools. Pitt County is redrawing attendance lines for 11 elementary schools and three middle schools for the 2011-12 school year to open the new Lake forest Elementary and close Sadie Saulter Elementary. The redistricting could potentially address unpopular redistricting plans based on busing and reassign students to closer schools. The district has said that it does not want to create a racially identifiable school or one with a proficiency below the district’s average of 59 percent. State law does not define statistics for “racially identifiable” schools.
State To Receive $3.4 Million For Charter Schools
A $3.4 million federal grant will help the Arkansas State Department of Education promote public charter schools at a time when some officials of traditional public education are challenging the alternative schools’ encroachment. The money from the U.S. Department of Education’s public charter schools program is to the used to help start up newly approved charter schools, to help inform other charter and public schools about successful education programs and to support planning efforts for new schools, some members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation said today.
Local NAACP Votes To Appeal Judge’s Desegregation Order
Members of the Orange County, FL branch of the NAACP voted Monday night to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that released the county’s schools from 48 years of court-ordered desegregation. Unsure of whether they have legal standing to appeal, the members also voted to notify the national NAACP and the Legal Defense Fund that they want U.S. District Court Judge Anne Conway’s Aug. 2 ruling appealed. Conway declared that Orange County schools had achieved “unitary” status by removing the vestiges of institutional segregation. But the NAACP members fear that without court supervision, the school system is under no obligation to ensure children of an equal education regardless of race. They also worry that without a binding agreement between the school board and the black community, black schools will be underfunded and ignored.
Parents Continue Boundary Discussion
District Talks Give Public Chance To Have Their Say
Their kids don’t go back to school until Aug. 25. Charlotte-Mecklenburg parents, however, already have been in class all summer. They’ve participated in district talks on a topic of top concern to parents: how CMS should assign students to schools and set school boundary lines, starting with the 2011-12 school year. The current “guiding principles” for student assignment have been in place since 2005. They cover a range of priorities – from guaranteeing a school seat close to home, to diversity in schools, to supporting magnet programs that offer specialized programs. In recent years, these priorities often proved controversial – with no shortage of story lines in southern Mecklenburg on attention-grabbing student assignment decisions.
CMS Board Passes Guiding Principles For Student Assignment
Moving forward, Charlotte-Mecklenburg students are now guaranteed a seat in a school that’s close to home. Tuesday night, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board passed a set of guiding principles to help create home schools while still maintaining diversity. Board members suggested one way to improve that access is to promote diversity. “Not all of our communities are extremely diverse and diversity is a factor on the board’s list,” said CMS Superintendent Dr. Peter Gorman. “So how do we do that?” The board ranked diversity as one of its top priorities in student assignment. But they say there can be a conflict between that and neighborhood schools. A final vote on those measures won’t be made until November.
School Systems Struggle With Diversity
Wake County Looks To CMS’s Choice-Based Plan As CMS Ponders Its Guiding Principles
As Wake County goes through explosive upheaval over student assignment, many look to Charlotte for lessons. Some see Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ experience as a beacon of hope for neighborhood schools, others as a cautionary tale. Eight years have passed since CMS – released from federal court supervision and mandated desegregation – adopted a choice-based, neighborhood system seen as not too different from what Wake County is considering for its 140,000-plus students. Supporters of Wake’s ruling school-board majority often point to better results among poor and minority students in Charlotte, even though the system’s overall scores are lower than Wake’s. And those who resist change to Wake’s diversity-based assignment system note that Charlotte’s gains have come at great expense, with tens of millions of dollars in county, state and federal money spent trying to compensate for the disadvantages of high-poverty schools.
CMS Dad Reaches Out To Feds About School District’s Decision
Charlotte – Mecklenburg school (CMS) district claims diversity is important to a successful education, but one parent argues the school district is not making that happen. CMS parent Britton McGill is upset the school district has decided to move his son, who is black, from diverse Hopewell High school to West Charlotte HS. West Charlotte High has a student population that consists of nearly 90% African American students. The father believes this makes no sense, while CMS argues West Charlotte High is the closest school for the student. McGill has now reached out to Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan for assistance. He sent him a letter about what CMS has done.
Parents Raise Concerns About CMS Overhaul
A Monday night meeting marked the first in a series of public forums in which parents and community members discuss a major overhaul of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The school board recently launched a district-wide review that will encompass everything from student assignment and diversity to transportation and increasing achievement in the classroom. Diversity was a dominant theme in nearly every group. Parents praised the benefits of diverse classrooms and questioned CMS staff members on their plans to increase diversity in local schools.
JPSB Votes To Violate Desegregation Order
Parents of hundreds of magnet school students were stunned Wednesday evening when the Jefferson Parish School Board (LA) voted 6-3 to cut all transportation services next year for students at the school system’s four elementary academies for advanced studies – Metairie Academy, Gretna #2 Academy, Marrero Academy and the new Airline Park Academy. The plan authored by board member Ray St. Pierre was billed as a cost-cutting move, but educational advocate and former Orleans School Board member Jimmy Fahrenholtz told The Louisiana Weekly, “There’s no doubt that’s its illegal… Under the law, school boards must provide transportation to all public schools under their purview.” For a system still operating under the Dandridge desegregation consent order, Fahrenholtz concluded that the vote will never stand the weight of the courts. Jefferson School Board attorney Michael Fanning warned the assembled members that denying could violate the desegregation order, but that did not stop a 6-3 approval.
Judge Oks 1st Step In Unitary Status
A federal judge has ruled that the Tangipahoa Parish (LA) school system has reached unitary status in transportation, providing a first step in getting complete unitary status in the system’s desegregation lawsuit, officials said Monday. To resolve the lawsuit, the parish still has to get voter approval of taxes needed to fulfill its court-approved desegregation plan, Kolwe said. The desegregation plan calls for magnet programs in a number of schools where a majority of students are black. It requires construction of six new schools, three of which would pool students from predominantly white areas and predominantly black areas. Those and other parts of the plan would cost an estimated $200 million.
Quiet Man Set Off Long, Loud Battle That Desegregated Dallas Schools
Sam Tasby lives a quiet life alone in a modest home on a dead-end street in northwest Dallas. He’s getting up in age, at 88, and has outlived his wife and half of his six children. The soft-spoken man was lead plaintiff in the biggest school battle in Dallas history — the desegregation of the Dallas Independent School District.
Districts Blocking Student Transfers
Every day more calls trickle in. The Clayton School District (MO) has answered about 60 of them. At Hazelwood schools, the number is 90. On the other end of the line are desperate parents in the unaccredited Riverview Gardens and St. Louis school districts. They are hoping to take advantage of a recent state Supreme Court decision that would allow them to transfer their children to better schools. At the same time, the decision also would force county school districts to open their doors to thousands of new students, whether there is room for them or not.
Kagan Confirmed To Us Supreme Court
The US Senate approves President Barack Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court on a generally partisan vote of 63 to 37. In the memos dating back to the late 1980’s, Kagan defended a constitutional right to public funding for prisoners’ abortions. She also defended a school desegregation program.
Diversity Debate Convulses Elite High School
With one of its alumnae,Elena Kagan, poised for confirmation as a justice on the United States Supreme Court it should be a triumphant season for Hunter College High School, a New York City public school for the intellectually gifted. But instead, the school is in turmoil, with much of the faculty in an uproar over the resignation of a popular principal, the third in five years. In her departure speech to teachers in late June, the principal cited several reasons for her decision, including tensions over a lack of diversity at the school, which had been the subject of a controversial graduation address the day before by one of the school’s few African-American students.
Judge Ends Decades-Old Desegregation Case Against Orange Schools
The Orange County school district has wiped out remnants of past segregation and, 48 years after being sued by a group of black parents, no longer requires court oversight, a federal judge ruled Monday. “It is time to put this decades-old public school desegregation case completely to rest,” wrote U.S. District Judge Anne Conway in her 46-page order dismissing the case. The Orange County School Board approved an agreement with the NAACP this spring and submitted it to the U.S. District Court in Orlando. Both school leaders and NAACP officials said working out an agreement was a better option than a protracted legal battle.
Board Oks High School Face Lift
The long awaited face lift of Ville Platte High School took a big step forward Wednesday with the awarding of a contract. The condition of the 70-plus year old Ville Platte High has long been a main sticking point with Justice Department officials during the district’s 40-year-old desegregation case. At the urging of the court, the board attempted on three different occasions, with no success, to pass a bond issue to pay for a new school at Ville Platte High.
Thomas Jefferson High School Aims For Greater Diversity
Lack Of Black, Hispanic Students At Fairfax County Magnet School A Concern
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is known for its scholastic excellence, but not its diversity. Of the 480 students admitted to the magnet school for the 2009-10 school year, only four were black and 13 Hispanic. Blacks and Hispanics, however, represent 29 percent of the county’s student population. Whites and Asians — who represent 64.1 percent of the county’s students — made up 92.1 percent of those accepted to the school last year. The remaining about 7 percent of students are of American Indian, Alaskan, Hawaiian-Pacific Islander or multiracial decent. Developing a “pipeline” program — possibly through a grant-funded afterschool enrichment program in science and math — is one possibility. Making Algebra available to all eighth graders and improving access to Honors and other advanced classes were among the suggestions for improving black and Hispanic turnout made to the county School
‘The Year The White Kids Came:’ Diversity Grows At JP School
In many ways, Ellis Mendell Elementary is a fairly typical Boston public school. Its test scores are low. The vast majority of students comes from low-income families, and they’re Hispanic and African-American. But there’s something unusual about the school’s kindergarten class. Meredith McDonough, the kindergarten teacher, knows what it is. She was once a first-grade student in the same classroom. “I was the one white kid in my class, one of like five in the whole school, five families,” she said. Today, about half of the class is white. For decades, Boston’s public schools have struggled with declining enrollment and resources. Partly, that downturn is because professional parents move to the suburbs and take their kids and resources with them. But in Jamaica Plain — and at Mendell in particular — a growing number of parents is reversing that trend.
Detail Could Move Calhoun Schools Toward Unitary Status
Almost forty years have passed since a federal court ordered desegregation of Calhoun County Schools — but as recently as Thursday, the Calhoun County School Board was working out details of a legal agreement that could eventually get them out of court-ordered supervision over the process. Board members approved an amendment to a legal agreement–one that clarifies which construction projects have to be submitted for court approval, and which can be approved by the school board. It may seem like a minor detail, but it’s a step toward achieving “unitary status” — official recognition that the school system is, in effect, integrated.
Rights Groups Sever School Ties
Criticize Process Of Student Assignments
Three prominent civil rights organizations have abruptly ended their partnership with the Boston public schools to create a new system to assign students to schools, concerned that the process is moving too slowly and has left out the public. The organizations have been assisting Boston schools since last fall, when the district received a federal grant to engage the public in developing a new assignment plan that would ensure students had equitable access to high-quality programs and classrooms that reflected the city’s demographics. Yet, during that time, the district has not devoted a single public meeting to the issue.
Consolidation Plan Denied By Federal Judge As Failing To Comply With Desegregation Requirements
As reported by The News-Star, a federal judge in Louisiana has denied the Union Parish school system’s plan to consolidate grade levels at some of its schools because it fails to comply with the U.S. Department of Justice’s long-standing desegregation requirements for the parish.
Last month, the School Board voted on the plan, which required the transfer of several grades of middle and high school students to other schools. One school zone would have been enlarged in an effort to make a slight increase in racial diversity at the mostly white school.
Coalition Forum To Address Diversity
The Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children is hosting a forum tonight on education and diversity. “A Community Dialogue on the Future of Education in Pitt County” is planned from 6-9 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1095 Allen Road. Organizers hope the event will foster discussion about the role of diversity in schools and the community. Representatives from the organizations will provide historical background on education in Pitt County and facilitate large and small group discussions on how race and ethnicity affect the education system, as well.
School Zones Enforced Per Court Order
Certain students in the Tate County School District (MS) are about to be affected by a federal court order handed down before they were even born. County school board members voted at a June 30 special meeting to enforce school attendance zones as prescribed in a 1970 federal desegregation order. School districts across the state have been coming under increased scrutiny in recent months for their adherence to the ruling. Tate County has not been approached, but school officials say they are being “pro-active.” State-appointed conservator James Malone told board members that the district had “no choice” but to come into compliance with the order. All of the zone lines stayed the same, but the district is seeking clarification on the southwest attendance zone from the federal government. That northern line will remain for the present time. In recent years, district officials had allowed some leniency for students to transfer from one school in the district to another. Now, all of those children will have to be returned to their proper zone.
In New Melting Pot, Blending Comes Easy
Welcome to the epicenter of a demographic landmark in metro Atlanta. The Census Bureau confirmed last month that Gwinnett is now minority-majority. Nonwhite residents outnumber the white, 50.8 percent to 49.2. Gwinnett, researchers say, is an ethnic harbinger: As it goes, so likely will go the rest of metro Atlanta, as well as other regions in the country. To find an area of the county that closely mirrors the census findings, the AJC turned to Gwinnett County Public Schools. The system tracks student diversity by school clusters. Statistics compiled in 2009 determined that the percentage of minority students in the Brookwood cluster, 50.1, slightly higher than the percentage of white students. The AJC then focused on Five Forks, a cluster of homes and shops in the school cluster. The community is a statistical ground zero in the diversification of Gwinnett.
Plaintiffs Say TUSD Needs Us Oversight
Latino and black plaintiffs are urging an appellate court to overturn the ruling of a federal judge that ended court oversight of the Tucson Unified School District’s efforts to bring schools into racial balance. In an 83-page brief filed Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued that the court, eager to end decades of jurisdiction over the district, disregarded repeated instances of TUSD’s lack of good faith of coming into compliance with a 1978 settlement agreement. “There may not be ‘whites only’ and ‘Mexicans only’ signs at the schoolhouse door, but the record in this case proves the same result – denial of equal educational opportunity to Latino and African-American students,” said attorney Cynthia Valenzuela. Noting her organization disagrees with the District Court’s ruling that a desegregation order is no longer necessary, she pledged to “continue to challenge the ruling to ensure that each child in this school district has an equal opportunity for education regardless of race or national origin.”
School District’s Use Of Racial Demographics In Developing Redistricting Plans Did Not Violate African-American Students’ Title Vi, Section 1981 Or Equal Protection Rights
A federal district court in Pennsylvania has ruled that a school district’s use of racial demographics to redraw the attendance zones for its two high schools did not violate African-American students’ rights under section 1981, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. A group of African-American students, who live in the area of Lower Merion School District (PA) with the highest concentration of African-American students (known as the “Affected Area”), filed suit against LMSD alleging that the school district’s redistricting plan, which took away their ability to choose to attend either of LMSD’s high schools, violated their equal protection and Title VI rights.
CMS Board Debates Diversity
One day before they’re slated to forge consensus on student-assignment goals, members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board aired deep differences on diversity, magnets and neighborhood schools. Those differences seem to reflect community views, according to reports from the three public forums held last week. The final forum, at Hopewell High in Huntersville tonight, is expected to draw the largest crowd yet.
City Seeking New Test for Gifted Admissions
The city will search for a new admissions test for its gifted and talented public school programs, a Department of Education official said on Monday, in part to address concerns that some families were “gaming” the test through extensive preparation.
Are American Schools Returning To Segregation?
The Supreme Court launched the desegregation of schools with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Now, once diverse districts like Goldsboro, N.C., are reverting to segregation, concerning civil rights advocates.
Feds Ok Charter School For East Feliciana Parish
The East Feliciana Parish School Board won federal court authorization Friday for the Slaughter Community Charter School. Operating under a desegregation order in a 45-year-old civil rights suit, the School Board had asked U.S. District Judge James J. Brady of Baton Rouge to authorize the charter school in the predominantly white Slaughter area. Earlier in the week, Brady granted the board permission to consolidate all parish high-school students at existing public facilities in Jackson. The judge also authorized consolidation of all middle-school students at the former public high school in Clinton.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews Protest Jailing Parents Who Refuse School’s Desegregation Tens Of Thousands Of Demonstrators Defend Parents Who’ve Kept Their Daughters From Attending A Religious Girls School In The West Bank After An Order Bans Separating Ashkenazi And Sephardic Students
Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested Thursday against a Supreme Court decision to jail parents who have refused to comply with its order to desegregate a religious girls school. Dressed in black hats and carrying posters denouncing the court as “fascists,” the mostly peaceful demonstrators continued their afternoon protest until about 40 parents turned themselves in to police to begin serving two-week sentences for contempt of court, a police spokesman said. The protests, which organizers vowed would continue, marked the latest fissure in relations between Israel’s religious and secular communities.
Lawyer Pins Hope On A New District
A petition being circulated around Jacksonville (AK) is the latest strategy of proponents for a school district in Jacksonville and north Pulaski County, independent of Pulaski County Special School District. Specifically, the petition supports the establishment of a separate district without the new district having to shoulder any of the debt for new school construction in Maumelle, Sherwood or Chenal, effective upon PCSSD achieving unitary status. The petition states that schools in PCSSD zone 6 (Jacksonville) and zone 5 (north Pulaski County) have been neglected by the district, alluding to research done this spring by Jacksonville High School seniors that showed that those two zones have been recipients of 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, of all district capital improvement funding during the last 10 years. Those two zones contribute about a third of total property tax revenues collected for PCSSD, Rice told a gathering Thursday of members of the local chapter of the National Association of Retired and Active Federal Employees (NARAFE).
Magnet Schools Losing Pull Choices Not As Plentiful As They Once Were
Wichita Falls Independent School District (Texas) may be known as a “Choice Program” district, but there aren’t as many program choices today as there used to be. The WFISD Choice Program allows secondary students to choose the junior high or high school they attend — a program that began in 1998. But a long roster of magnet school options that also began in 1998 has shrunk over the years to six official magnet programs at five schools, according to Jan Banner, WFISD magnet program director.
Rockford School District Invites Residents To Final Choice Forum
Residents have one last chance to offer input about potential changes to the Rockford School District’s (IL) student assignment plan. The next step in the evaluation process likely won’t come until September. The Rockford School District hired Bingham, a Colorado-based consultant from Western Demographics Inc., to survey parents and determine whether the district’s elementary school assignment plan needs an overhaul.
School Consolidation Issue Heads To Federal Court
A federal judge must decide whether consolidating East Feliciana Parish’s (LA) middle and high schools is appropriate under the desegregation order. Superintendent Doug Beauchamp told the judge Tuesday morning that consolidation would definitely follow the desegregation order because all students would have the same opportunities. Beauchamp said the school board is facing a projected $2 million budget shortfall without consolidating the schools for the 2010-2011 school year. He said that is due to losing students, a drop in the MFP funding and decreased sales tax.
ECISD Officially Released From Desegregation Order
U.S. District Judge Robert Junell ordered the dismissal of the long-standing desegregation lawsuit against Ector County Independent School District (TX). “The court finds that the parties have satisfactorily resolved all matters between themselves and do not desire to proceed further with this suit. The court agrees with the parties and is of the opinion that this cause of action should be dismissed,” states a news release quoting the order.
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond: Housing Desegregation Is Key To Equality
The effort to end housing segregation has evolved into one of the next major civil rights battles, former NAACP chairman Julian Bond told a crowd of hundreds Thursday evening at the opening of a four-day conference on Race in America at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s so key to all of the other myriad problems which people of color face,” Bond said. “If you’re segregated to one part of town, you’re away from the best jobs, the best schools, the best opportunities.”
Jefferson Parish School Board Defers Redistricting Plan After Clancy Parents Protest
The Jefferson Parish School Board on Wednesday deferred a controversial redistricting plan but not before a crowd of angry parents whose children attend Clancy School for the Arts in Kenner accused the board of playing politics with their children. Under the proposal, about 130 children from the Susan Park subdivision would be reassigned to G.T. Woods Elementary School. School Board member Cedric Floyd, whose district includes Woods, said the move would boost the school’s dwindling enrollment and let Susan Park students attend a school closer to their homes. But at a public hearing earlier in the day, parents — many with their children in tow — begged the School Board to let their children remain at Clancy. They said their children have blossomed at the relatively new magnet school and that reassigning them to one of the school system’s lowest performing schools would destroy the progress they have made in the past three years.
More Threats To School Diversity Looming
Sadly, resistance to programs designed to integrate schools is mounting across the country– even in “progressive” communities that had once voluntarily desegregated. California’s Tinsley Voluntary Transfer Program, for example, is just one instance of the kinds of longstanding programs now at risk. Recently, Menlo Park’s city superintendent questioned whether Menlo Park could afford the program, citing the budget crunch and the growing number of children in the district. Suddenly, Menlo Park parents who value the diversity the program brings to their schools found themselves clashing with neighbors who wanted the program eliminated. A strong debate took place before the school board agreed not to suspend the program for now.
Racial Allegations At New Magnet School Addressed
Comments by the vice chairwoman of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education (AL) two weeks ago, alleging racial problems at the system’s new magnet school, drew a strong initial response, but a closer look at the numbers and perceptions reveals a more complicated picture. After reviewing statistics from the school system and interviewing parents, students, teachers and administrators, The Tuscaloosa News found that people’s perceptions were often divided along racial lines, and were not always reflected in the facts.
School Redistricting: Coalition Plans To Participate In Reassignment
The Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children plans to participate in the upcoming student reassignment process as Pitt County Schools redraws attendance district lines for the 2011-12 school year. Coalition members held a meeting Tuesday night at the C.M. Eppes Recreation Center to discuss their role in student reassignment and working toward unitary status. Unitary status, which Pitt County Schools has not been officially granted by the courts, means eliminating all vestiges of segregation in the school system as measured by equality across several factors including student assignment.
Rockford, Il May Be Spread Too Thin To Send Kids To Neighborhood Schools
Most parents in the district don’t send their kids to their “neighborhood” school, according to a study released this month by the University of Illinois College of Medicine. There are many reasons why, but the most practical explanation is that the district is too geographically spread out. Population centers have shifted so that there aren’t enough seats available at schools in certain parts of town.
School Board Sticks To Magnet Program
At a Guilford County Board of Education (NC) retreat in September 2009, Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green asked the school board to decide why it has magnet schools – specialized schools that draw students from across the county, rather than from geographically limited attendance zones. The school board this week responded, putting a new magnet school policy out for public comment that restates the school system’s reliance on magnet schools to achieve continued racial integration – although the policy doesn’t use the term, instead opting for a statement that the schools “reduce minority group isolation and support diverse populations within schools.” The policy lists that as one of the three goals of magnet schools, along with maximizing the use of school buildings and providing expanded educational opportunities.
“The Unfinished Work”: Advancing New Strategies in the Struggle for Civil Rights
William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education
Chapel Hill, NC
November 1-2, 2010
William Taylor, Vigorous Rights Defender, Dies at 78
From the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/us/30taylor.html?src=mv
William L. Taylor, who as a lawyer, lobbyist and government official for more than a half century had significant roles in pressing important civil rights cases and in drafting and defending civil rights legislation, died Monday in Bethesda, Md. He was 78 and lived in Washington. His son, David Van Taylor, said the direct cause of death was fluid in his lungs, a complication of a head injury he suffered in a fall a month ago.
William Taylor began his long fight for racial justice as a young lawyer at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. working with Thurgood Marshall, who would later become a Supreme Court justice. He helped fight some of the difficult civil rights battles that followed the Supreme Court order in 1954 that schools be desegregated. One assignment was writing much of the brief that persuaded the court to order the continued desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Ark., in an extraordinary summer session in 1958. The local school board had decided to suspend desegregation because of heated resistance the previous year.
Mr. Taylor went on to the United States Commission on Civil Rights as general counsel and staff director during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He directed research that contributed to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Later victories included negotiating a voluntary school desegregation plan in St. Louis in the 1980s as well as deals with other school systems. In a statement Tuesday, the N.A.A.C.P. called Mr. Taylor “a staunch advocate for educational equity throughout his storied legal career.”
Starting in 1982, Mr. Taylor used his position as vice chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to help renew and strengthen some of the major civil rights legislation of the 1960s. He headed a team of lawyers assembled by the conference that evaluated civil rights enforcement in the first year of the Reagan administration. In a 75-page report, the lawyers found that the administration had “repudiated” constitutional interpretations by the Supreme Court that protected rights and that it had attacked lower courts for protecting minorities.
“For more than half a century, Bill Taylor’s voice was synonymous with equality,” Representative George Miller, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement. Mr. Taylor is also credited with helping to devise a strategy by liberals to defeat President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, partly by recruiting well-known law professors to criticize him. Mr. Taylor could sometimes be unpredictable, as when he openly supported President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law to overhaul education. Liberal critics called the measure punitive, poorly financed and too oriented toward standardized tests.
William Lewis Taylor was born on Oct. 4, 1931 to first-generation immigrants from Lithuania in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. In speeches over the years he said that as a Jewish teenager he had experienced anti-Semitism in a neighborhood that Jews shared mainly with Italians. “I remember being pushed around as a kid and being called a ‘Christ killer,’ ” he once said. He became aware of prejudice against blacks, he said, when he saw whites harass Jackie Robinson when he broke baseball’s color line in 1947.
Mr. Taylor attended Brooklyn College, where he was editor of the college newspaper. The college president suspended him for printing an article that the president had objected to; it said a professor had been denied tenure because of his political views. A decade later, when Mr. Taylor was applying for a job with the federal government, Brooklyn College officials urged the government not to hire him. According to his F.B.I. file, college officials said that as a student he had “espoused liberal causes such as the rights of the Negro in the South,” The New York Times reported in 2001. That year, in a gesture of both contrition and pride, Brooklyn College awarded Mr. Taylor an honorary degree. Christoph M. Kimmich, the college president, called him “a person who represents what this institution is about.”
Mr. Taylor graduated from Brooklyn College in 1952 and Yale Law School in 1954, wrote many articles and two books, and taught at the law schools of the Catholic University of America, Stanford and Georgetown. His wife, the former Harriett Elaine Rosen, a trial judge in Washington for 17 years, died in 1997. In addition to his son, Mr. Taylor is survived by his daughters, Lauren and Deborah Taylor; his brother, Burton; and three grandchildren.
In the 1950s, Mr. Taylor was a popular contestant on the game show “Tic-Tac-Dough,” his son said. When producers offered him answers, which would have guaranteed his earnings, he refused. He later testified to a grand jury investigating quiz show fraud. The jury foreman, who had heard the testimony of other “Tic-Tac-Dough” contestants, informed Mr. Taylor that he had won more money than anyone else who had not taken answers. His son said that was a lasting source of pride.
Additional Resources for School Integration
Field Guide For Organizers Targets Policy Equity
Step-By-Step Worksheets Help Evaluate Equitable Impact Of Proposed Policy And Assess Policy-Development Process, Kirwan Institute.
Shining the Light: A Practical Guide to Co-Creating Healthy Communities is designed to help organizers and policy makers bring racial equity into their work. It includes a series of worksheets which take users through a step-by-step series of questions to evaluate proposed policies and their impact, and to analyze the policy-development process itself, in order to identify possibilities for achieving broader benefit. Available at:
Another document prepared simultaneously, Shining the Light: Revealing Our Choice spotlights the impact of structural racism within Minnesota, then presents the need for an organized course of action to break down structural barriers. Available at:
The State of Public Schools In Post-Katrina New Orleans. From the Institute on Race and Poverty, University of Minnesota School of Law: Charter schools in New Orleans have been hailed as the silver lining to Hurricane Katrina. The state of Louisiana used the hurricane as an opportunity to rebuild the entire New Orleans public school system, and launched the nation’s most extensive charter school experiment. This report evaluates how this experiment has fared in providing quality education to all students of the public school system regardless of race, socioeconomic class, or where they live in New Orleans metropolitan area. The report argues that in order to guarantee equal educational opportunities to all of the region’s students, the school system should take a more balanced, regional approach, including a renewed commitment to the city’s traditional public schools and enhanced choices for students in the form of regional magnet schools and new inter-district programs.
Full report available at: http://www.irpumn.org/uls/resources/projects/NEW_ORLEANS_FULL_REPORT.pdf
Executive summary available at:
Past featured resources can be found in the Resources section of the TIR Web site.
The Integration Report – Staff Members
Editor: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Editorial Committee: Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, Laurie Russman
Webmaster: John Khuu & Matthew Palmer
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.