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Old 06-28-2007, 05:06 PM   #1
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New SCOTUS decision limits school integration plans

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By Warren Richey
Christian Science Monitor, June 29


WASHINGTON--In a major 5-to-4 decision announced Thursday, the US Supreme Court struck down race-based public school enrollment plans in Seattle and Louisville, KY that were designed to maintain racially integrated student populations. The majority justices said the plans were unconstitutional because they relied too heavily on race in violation of the mandate that all Americans be treated equally regardless of skin color or ethnicity.

In announcing the ruling, Chief Justice Roberts gave public-school administrators throughout the nation perhaps their toughest assignment yet: Find a way to remain faithful to the promise of racially integrated schools under the landmark 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education, but do it without paying inordinate attention to the racial or ethnic background of the students. The decision in two consolidated cases is likely to spark legal challenges to many affirmative-action plans and other proactive race-conscious measures aimed at reaching out to African-Americans and other minorities.

The ruling brought immediate and heated reaction. "We're very outraged by it, and we'll fight it, as we say, by any means necessary," says George Washington, a lawyer with the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action in Detroit. "It's an attempt to end racial progress in this country. It's an attempt to freeze de facto segregation as it now exists in this country." Others praised the opinion. "School boards will look at this decision and see that Seattle and Louisville failed," says Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity in Falls Church, VA. "That, plus the fact that I think racial and ethnic preferences are increasingly unpopular with students and parents of all races will persuade most schools not to engage in this kind of discrimination."

The 41-page decision backs away from some of the constitutional ground staked out four years ago in June 2003, when then-Justice Sandra Day O'Connor cast the deciding vote in a 5-to-4 decision upholding the use of race to achieve student diversity at the prestigious University of Michigan Law School. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a dissent in that case accusing the majority justices in the Michigan Law School decision of abandoning the high constitutional bar that had traditionally been applied by the court to the use of race in the context of university admissions. Thursday's decision beefs up that constitutional scrutiny, but Justice Kennedy declined to join the court's four conservatives in adopting a colorblind approach in matters of school enrollment. Such an approach would have potentially closed the door on all race-based plans. School officials have a compelling interest in avoiding racial isolation and in achieving a diverse student population, Kennedy writes in a concurring opinion. "Race may be one component of that diversity, but other demographic factors, plus special talents and needs, should also be considered," he says.

As in the high court's April 18 abortion decision, the shift in its race-based enrollment jurisprudence can be linked to Justice O'Connor's retirement from the court and her replacement by a more conservative justice, Samuel Alito.

Both sides of the sharply divided court attempted to wrap their arguments in references to Brown v. Board of Education. In his majority opinion, the chief justice quoted from a second Brown decision in 1955 as requiring government officials " 'to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis.' What do racial classifications do in these cases, if not determine admissions to a public school on a racial basis?" Roberts asks. "Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin...The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again--even for very different reasons."

In a 68-page dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said that to invalidate the Seattle and Louisville enrollment plans "is to threaten the promise of Brown." "What was the hope and promise of Brown?" Justice Breyer asks. "It was the promise of true racial equality--not as a matter of fine words on paper, but as a matter of everyday life in the nation's cities and schools." Breyer warns that the majority's position will undercut the larger significance of Brown. "This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret," he writes.

Both of the challenged enrollment plans in Louisville and Seattle attempted to address de facto segregation tied in part to housing patterns. The voluntary desegregation programs were aimed at preventing the school districts from sliding into a starkly segregated environment with minority students isolated in inner-city schools and white students isolated in suburban schools. To achieve a meaningful mix, school boards in Louisville and Seattle decided that they would sometimes have to use race as a factor to determine which students could attend the most popular schools.

In Seattle, the school board set enrollment at the district's most desired high schools within 15 percentage points of the overall racial balance of the district's students. The balance was 40% white and 60% nonwhite. Students were permitted to attend any of the district's 10 high schools. But because some schools were more popular than others, the board created a racial tiebreaker to determine eligibility to attend the most popular schools. If a new student would cause that particular school's white or nonwhite student population to increase above the 55% cutoff, the student was barred from attending that school. Opponents of the plan said Seattle schools were already diverse and that the race tiebreaker was a form of unconstitutional racial balancing. Lawyers for the school board argued that integration efforts are not the same as racial discrimination. There is a fundamental difference between using race to segregate students and using it to integrate them, they said.

In Louisville, the Jefferson County School Board established a broad goal that each of the district's schools should have black student enrollment set between 15% and 50% of the school's total enrollment. African-American enrollment districtwide is about 35%. School administrators set the exact racial mix at each school. The program tries to encourage students to attend schools outside their neighborhood to help achieve meaningful diversity in every school in the district. School officials urge parents to be flexible in considering an array of second- and third-choice schools to avoid disappointment over being denied admission to a single favored school for racial reasons. Parents opposed to the plan say it denies a government benefit based on skin color. Supporters say all schools in the district are essentially the same in offering a public education, so being admitted to one school instead of another does not amount to a benefit.

The two cases decided Thursday are Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (05-908) and Crystal Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (05-915). Complete decisions and dissents are available on the Supreme Court's website at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/index.html.




Major US Supreme Court rulings on school segregation:

1896: Plessy v. Ferguson: Upheld "Jim Crow" laws designed to ensure racial segregation; established "separate but equal" doctrine.

1954: Brown v. Board of Education: Ruled that segregation in public schools violates 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.

1968: Green v. County School Board of New Kent County: Found that "freedom of choice" plans were ineffective at achieving desegregation and had to be replaced by more effective strategies.

1971: Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenberg Board of Education: Busing white and black students to achieve racial balancing in schools is constitutionally permissible.

1978: University of California Regents v. Bakke: Declared unconstitutional a medical school's admissions policy that set quotas for the number of slots for minority students, but did not rule out race-based admissions policies.

2003: Grutter v. Bollinger: Decided that the University of Michigan Law School's narrowly tailored race-based admissions policies are justified to foster racial diversity.
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Old 06-28-2007, 07:38 PM   #2
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So Yolland

Do you think it is a good decision?

I think
it is not.

One more reason why I think Alito
was a poor chioce.

Also, I think Kenedy has been disappointting this term.

He seems to be going with the conservative block
and is not the swing vote that many have thought he would become.
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Old 06-28-2007, 10:35 PM   #3
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I'll be honest. If I had to be on a bus for three hours a day for the sake of "diversity," I'd be one angry motherfucker. In an odd sense, I find myself "agreeing" with the contradictions of this ruling, in principle. In practice, though, I'm sure it is much more trouble than it's worth, and I wish there had been more clarity with the ruling. Of course, had it not been for Kennedy, the four ultraconservatives would have overturned "integration" altogether, so that's mainly the source of this confusing ruling.

In the end, though, I'm forced to admit that this entire concept is foreign to me. Myself, I went to a very "white" private school, but my sisters, who chose to go to a different private school, were completely surrounded by socioeconomic and racial diversity, due to the location of the school and their abnormally large endowment funds that allowed people who could not otherwise afford it go there.

In other news, I'm really quite pissed off at this SCOTUS ruling:

http://money.cnn.com/2007/06/28/news...ion=2007062811

Quote:
The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a nearly 100-year-old precedent that some price-setting agreements between manufacturers and retailers are automatically illegal under federal antitrust law.
Silly me. Here I thought that "competition" was a "good thing" in a "free market" economy.

And people will certainly feel this ruling when those insanely great prices in Wal-Mart or Amazon.com start drying up, because manufacturers are allowed to start dictating minimum prices.
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Old 06-29-2007, 02:02 AM   #4
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My main concern about the ruling is that over time it will have the effect of accelerating the racial (and economic) resegregation of public schools that's already been happening for a couple decades now, leaving more and more poor minority students effectively stuck in underfunded schools with inexperienced teachers, limited college prep options, ESL teacher demands exceeding supply, and low graduation rates. Obviously our mostly local-property-tax-based system for funding public education (thank you San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez) doesn't help matters, given the reality that racial and economic segregation transcend school systems; these issues are all of a piece really and I can understand to a point the jaded sense that busing, 'special program' allocations and so on are hopelessly piecemeal ways of getting at the problem, but what I've seen so far of the majority opinions (and I'll acknowledge I haven't read any of them in full yet) leaves me dumbfounded with their apparent implication that really the only problem with pre-Brown segregated schools was that the segregation was de jure rather than de facto. I've seen Clarence Thomas state that outright before, and frankly it left me wondering if his own experience of having had the (relatively) 'good' fortune to attend Catholic Gullah schools in Savannah growing up left him a little out of touch with what African-Americans in public schools there experienced. The older folks where I grew up remembered things like having paltry supplies of hand-me-down textbooks that white schools no longer wanted (and never enough to take one home), no science equipment, no charts or maps and certainly no AV stuff, no buses, school years several months shorter so as to accommodate the agricultural calendar, teachers with maybe 10 years of schooling on average (who earned 45% less than white teachers and had much larger classes), few if any high schools, only a fifth as much spent by the state per student compared to white schools, and just in general an education that was geared towards providing only the most basic maths and literacy needed to produce good domestic and agricultural workers, not collegebound professionals or small business owners. Of course the fact that their communities were disproportionately poorer and nothing was done to compensate for that contributed to the inadequacy of their school experiences compared to those of white people their age, many of whom were also from poor farming families. Not to mention that the social alienation fostered by that system went beyond the humiliation instilled by the 'de jure' aspect itself.

Ormus is right though that as far as it goes, Kennedy's opinion ("To the extent the plurality opinion suggests the Constitution mandates that state and local school authorities must accept the status quo of racial isolation in schools, it is, in my view, profoundly mistaken") does leave room for some 'alternative' approaches; however, most likely they'll be limited to things like how district lines are drawn and where new schools are sited. There has been experimentation by some school districts in the past with 'purely' economic-based desegregation measures, though from what I've read most of them actually increased racial segregation, and in any case there's concern in the wake of this ruling that any such attempts will wind up getting accused of being 'proxies' for what it forbids and accordingly get shot down.

I'd be curious though to see if any of our resident teachers, or for that matter parents with children in school systems where this is a significant issue, might have any comment. Our kids are in the public schools here and we do often attend school board meetings, but the local school system is too small for tensions over whose kids get to go to which school to be much of an issue.
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Old 06-29-2007, 02:13 AM   #5
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Ormus, that's just it. You went to a PRIVATE school. You had to pay tuition. I went to a public junior high, then we moved to another state and my mother put me in a private girl's school.

Most American children go to free public schools.`FREE public schools.` The free public school is the most democratic institution this country has ever produced and it is a major reason why the Americna dream has succeeded. It has been the great leveler, the great equalizer, and for generations of poor immigrant children, their ticket to a better life. In a free public school, we learn to relate to everyone regardless of who they were or where they came from. In sort, the experience of the free public school was the experience of Democracy. (And don't get the prejudiced idea that free public schools are where gangs or skimpily-dressed girls hang out and do drudgs and get pregnan. I've done a lot of my grad school work at an after-school ina public school at middle-class white suburb.)

Parents who can afford to pay tuition at a private school, or even do something innocuous like put their children in a Montessori school or something like that, no matter how diverse the student body...well, one day in the not-too-distant past, this may have been an experience roughly equivalent to the healthy diversity of public institutions. But in this age of glaring, Gilded Age-era income disparity and gated communties, and with tuitions in schools and colleges rising exponentially across the board all over the country, the private school has come to resemble in many cases a fortress where those who can afford it segregate their children, at all costs from ther "Great Unwashed" and the schools themselves have become exclusive "fast track" institutions to get the kids into the top schools. It's becoming a system of the "good old boys" again, and nobody gives a flight. At least, in many cases that is the attitude. We have come full circle....I can sense this because my sister, who is 16 yrs younger than I, went to the same private girls school as I did in the mid-80's and she was telling me about her experiences and school life. I felt like I was hearing dispatches from another planet. So, while your private school may have a diverse student body, and maybe it's unusual in that it resembles the private school of say, as recently as 10 yrs ago where students from all CLASSES were able to afford to go there, scratch the surface of most of them and I doubt you'll find private schools, esp the increasingly popular elite private schools, are very "democratic" institutions anymore. It's another sympton of the privatization "disease" that is slowly and systematically destroying the foundations of our society.

This court decision will be felt most keenly by immigrants, I suspect. (Thank God, at least, that the "point system" piece of trash died in the Senate today. I'm all for reforming immigration, but not by trying to build a Berlin Wall on our border using a private army of 20,000 mercenaries subsidized by Homeland Security and doing away with the 400-yr-old tradition of EXTENDED FAMILIES coming to the US. )

I have been predicting this black (no pun intended) day for months. Clarence Thomas behaved as represhensibly as I predicted he would, and fulfilled the greatest purpose for which the honorary Confederate Bush Sr sent him to the Court in the first place: he was a traitor to his race, and I hope he burns in hell. This is what those missing 500,000 votes in Miami-Dade country in Flroda in 2000 has led to, folks...I have kept track of the events that are follweing each other as smoothly as links on a chain. Everything is happening as I predictid it would.

For those of you who think this decision won't have any real effect on student bodies, that the process of volunatary re-segregation has been well underway for years so enshrining it into law won't make any real difference (as this Confederate Court would have you believe, let me give you an example. Without affirmative action, (which this decision basically destroys--the reason we needed to have a quota system instituted for students of color was because even after both Brown vs Board AND the 1964 Civil Rights Act, blacks still found it hard to get into the schools of their choice and they needed a further legal step, extrordinary to be sure, but it had to be, because when laws are passed they are usually obeyed, but white America, relucatant to share power, was dragging its feet)

ANYWAY......my example: Barack Obama. Without the so-called "Quota" system (affirmative action) which this court loathes, we wouldn't HAVE a Barack Obama. He has cited in numerous interviews how, after arriving in Hawaii as a teen in the early 80's (I think) he attended Punahou High, which is Hawaii's elite high school where all Ivy-League bound kids go. He said that he and his other African friend were "about one half" of the non-haole (white) population of Punahou. Punahou has a student body of some 500 or so. So out of 500+m students,only about 10 or so were of color. Now, under Brown vs Board but before affirmative action, most schools in America were admitting inonly the "token black" just to officially comply with the law. In Hawaii, this would have presented a problem. At Punahou, without affirmative action, who would they have admitted, as the designated "token black/person of color"? A Hawaiian, a black, a Chinese, a Japanese, a Filipino? How did Senator Daniel Inofe get to be where he was? Because he played great football at Honolulu High? In the country of Pearl Harbor? Come on.

But under affirmative action, with a quota for people of color, they had the luxury of amitting a token student of each non-haole race...plus an African or two,one of whom was the son of a farmer from Kenya named Barack Obama.

The truly heartbreakng thing about all this is, the corporately controlled media will not put this week's tragic FOur Days of the Court into proper focus. Long after Bush is gone, even if we have aa progressive President (of whatever stripe) in power, it will do no good. Bush's Confederate Court will make decisions that will not be felt until a generation hence. How did we get Spike Lee? Obama? Most of the African-American middle class? They mingled with white students in elementary school, high school and college and it is almost would not have been able to get into the "good" schools in town without this. Blacks are slowly going to disppear,once again from public life and visibility. At the time we need them most (nurses for our elderly population?) At a time when the rest of the world is going forward, we are seeing the most hideous fruits of Bush's-- or rather, Reagan's Revolution, delyed 25 yrs but here it really is at last. Remember, Brown vs Board came during the conservative, Red-Scare era of the Eisenhower admisntration. FDR"S Court set the stage for the Civil Rights era, decsades before it hit.


A major part of MLK's dream died today, and don't let the brainwashers tone it down or soften the blow for you. He is surely rolling in his grave. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"--I thought I knew what that title meant, and this is it. Ineed.

A perfect storm of crises is approaching this country: Boomer elderly, obesity, income deficiency, climate changed, the drying up of aquifers in the South and West (a water crisis), Iraq and our disasterous foreign policy, high-priced and diminishing oil supplies, the decaying of our infrastructure (electrical grids, the Interstate) etc....and these laws will not help. We cannot go on like this.and people wonder why Gore will not run. This country isn;t ready for him. If Roosevelt had run and won in 1928, instead of 32, he woukd have been Pres during the stock market crash and thus would have taken some of the blame for the Depression, and would not have had a mandate to implement the New Deal .I have been reading an excellent book on the Depression. People were so desperate they were ready for anyhing at that point, in 32. Well, I'd rather have Gore run 8 yrs from now, when our bundle of crises coalesces into REAL crisis and we have found that our current bundle of solutions isn't working. Sometimes, in really down moments, I really wish it would hapen now, to wake ourselves up from our American Idol stupor....
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Old 06-29-2007, 04:57 AM   #6
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Sorry for that LONG post....it's very late at night I should be in bed, but I had to vent....

Anyway, people, including the NAACP, are now talking about how they have got a "sliver lining", saying they can find a way to preserve diversity by using the "race-conscious" decisions instead of the old "race-based" ones. What utter bull*#$%. I love the Seattle Board of Schools proposed method" magnet schools, "allocating teachers and materials", outreach to certain families. Judge for yourself.

"diversity" means just what it says: a diverse student body that reflects all races, classes, and walks of life. "Race-based" guarunteed the non-white butts in the seats.

"Race-based" is a math class where you do word problems using toys and coins and dittoes. "Race-conscious" is a class where have tables driven into you by rote. "Race-based" is a science class where you go on field trips to the Smithsonian, dissect frogs and grow plants in petri dishes; "race-conscious" is where you read about diessecting frogs. "Race-based" means you go to a gym class and play team sports and do aerobic workouts. "Race-conscious" is one where you read about the history of gym class in the US and do term papers, instead of excercise(like my sister had to do in her gym class, in the same school where I had fun in gym class. You get the idea.

What's the use of being "conscious" of race? You can bring a black teacher into a classroom to talk about the history of integration, and black history....to a class audience with only a token black and Hispanic in it.

There's a practical value to having a large group of diverse students, esp among younger kids. Simply put, from a phsycological view, there's strength in numbers. When you are the only one, or only one of a handul out of majority group of hundreds or 2 out of 15, you will feel iniimidated and defensiveby the whims of the larger group....
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Teta040
Ormus, that's just it. You went to a PRIVATE school. You had to pay tuition. I went to a public junior high, then we moved to another state and my mother put me in a private girl's school.
1) Private schools, even at the high school level, are not the exclusive haunt for the rich, because we are certainly anything but. Had it not been for personal sacrifices and scholarships, it would never have happened for me, but considering that this region has some of the worst public schools around (not everyone gets the luxury of living on the East or West coast, which gets all the money and media attention), it was the right decision for me.

2) Although my school was not all that diverse, the county that school was in was not all that diverse either. You can't "invent" diversity. My school, however, progressively started going down the toilet after I graduated, so my younger sisters went to an inner-city private school that was heavily diverse, highly ranked, and had an unusual level of endowment funds, as their graduates tend to be very zealous supporters of them. As such, not only could my sisters afford to go there, but many people of different races and economic classes could afford to go there too.

3) I support diversity, but I would certainly be mad if I were in a situation where I had to bus my children far away from their closest local school just for the sake of "diversity," particularly if that school was terrible. After all, your "great equalizer" certainly doesn't have equal funding or equal resources in different schools, nor do they have equal teachers.

4) I understand our historical obsession with race and racism, but it completely ignores the larger issue of class and "classism." The poor neighborhoods around here are just as full of "poor whites" as there are "poor blacks," and the other traditional obsession with "inner city" schools often ignores the rural poor. And--surprise, surprise--poor districts across the country, regardless of race or whether its rural or urban, tend to have fewer resources, less funding, teacher problems, and worse test scores (not to mention school boards often stocked with complete idiots).

5) As far as I see it, "forced integration" is a band-aid solution to a larger problem in this country with social inequality. We accept a condition where schools in less-than-ideal neighborhoods are allowed to slip through the cracks, and we are consistently letting down the poor in this nation, regardless of race. The poor white communities across the nation are trapped in the same cycle of poverty as we archetypically assign to blacks, and the fact that we focus on one over the other means that we certainly haven't learned much in terms of ending racism.
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Resegregation of U.S. schools deepening

By Amanda Paulson
Christian Science Monitor, January 25, 2008


At one time, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina was a model of court-ordered integration. Today, nearly a decade after a court struck down its racial-balancing busing program, the school district is moving in the opposite direction. More than half of its elementary schools are either more than 90% black or 90% white. "Charlotte is rapidly resegregating," says Carol Sawyer, a parent and member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Equity Committee.

It's a trend that is occurring around the country and is even more pronounced than expected in the wake of court cases dismantling both mandated and voluntary integration programs, a new report says. The most segregated schools, according to the report, which documents desegregation trends, are in big cities of the Northeast and Midwest. The South and West--and rural areas and small towns generally--offer minority students a bit more diversity. Suburbs of large cities, meanwhile, are becoming the new frontier: areas to which many minorities are moving. These places still have a chance to remain diverse communities but are showing signs of replicating the segregation patterns of the cities themselves.

"It's getting to the point of almost absolute segregation in the worst of the segregated cities--within one or two percentage points of what the Old South used to be like," says Gary Orfield, codirector of the Civil Rights Project and one of the study's authors. "The biggest metro areas are the epicenters of segregation. It's getting worse for both blacks and Latinos, and nothing is being done about it."

About one-sixth of black students and one-ninth of Latino students attend what Mr. Orfield calls "apartheid schools," at least 99% minority. In big cities, black and Latino students are nearly twice as likely to attend such schools. Some two-thirds of black and Latino students in big cities attend schools with less than 10% white students; in rural areas, about one-seventh of black and Latino students do. Although the South was the region that originally integrated the most successfully, it's beginning to resegregate, as in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district.

While resegregation has been taking place for some time, Orfield says the latest numbers are worrisome both for the degree to which they show the trend is occurring and in light of the US Supreme Court's most recent decision on the issue last June, which struck down several voluntary integration programs and made it more difficult for districts that want to work at desegregating schools to do so. "If you [as a district] are going to ask your lawyer what's the easiest thing to do, it's to just stop trying to do anything," Orfield explains. "That's a recipe for real segregation."

Not everyone feels that way. Some groups applauded the Supreme Court's decision last summer as another step toward taking race out of school admission policies and allowing parents to send their kids to the schools most convenient for them. If schools start reflecting neighborhood makeup--which often means nearly all-white or all-minority--that doesn't have to matter, they say. "Segregation means people are being deliberately assigned to schools based on skin color," says Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity in Falls Church, Va. "If it simply reflects neighborhoods, then it's not segregation."

...That sounds great in theory, say some experts, but the fact is that segregated schools tend to be highly correlated with such things as school performance and the ability to attract teachers. "Once you separate kids spacially from more privileged kids, they tend to not get the same things," says Amy Stuart Wells, an education professor at Columbia University's Teachers College in New York. "And we need to start thinking about how a school that's racially isolated can be preparing students for this global society we live in."

Still, many of the programs that worked to achieve integration – such as busing--have been highly unpopular over the years. And in big cities, real integration is often virtually impossible: Many cities have largely minority populations, and the districts don't extend to the suburbs. Suburbs, though, offer potential. The Civil Rights Project report noted that big-city suburbs educate 7.9 million white students along with 2.1 million blacks and 2.9 million Latinos. "This is the new frontier for thinking about how to make diverse schools work," says Professor Wells.

But so far, the data for suburbs are not encouraging, showing emerging segregation. Some integration advocates say this shows a need for more diversity training for teachers and students and for policies that encourage integrated housing, not just schools. "Each affects the other," says Erica Frankenberg, the co-author on the Civil Rights Project study. "Unless we think about this jointly, we're probably not going to be able to create stable racially integrated neighborhoods and schools."
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