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No, U.S. Schools Aren’t “Resegregating”

The front-page headline on the Washington Post last week screamed, “New Data Shows U.S. schools Are Resegregating.” 

Not true. Segregation means the government separating students by race and telling them it is illegal for students of one race to attend the same schools as students of another race. So the number of segregated public schools in the United States today is . . . zero.

What is being complained about, instead, are racial “imbalances” that come about, not as a result of racist laws, but because of residential living patterns and the general practice of assigning children to schools that are near where they live. Deliberately assigning children to schools on the basis of skin color — which, ironically, is what the Left wants in order to correct these “imbalances” — is bad policy and illegal, in light of not only Brown v. Board of Education but, more recently, the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v.  Seattle School District No. 1

Assigning students on the basis of skin color can hurt minority students as well as nonminority students. As the GAO study that the Post story discusses notes, “Further, according to officials, some magnets with openings could not accept minority students because doing so would interfere with the ratio of minority to non-minority students that the district was trying to achieve.” And as I noted in last week’s email, St. Louis-area public school system was recently sued for refusing to admit a black student because, well, he was black, and that would have interfered with the politically correct racial mix being sought.

There’s more: The Post article also mixes poverty into the equation, but of course here again the fact that rich children live in different neighborhoods than poor children, and therefore are likely to attend different schools, is a very different phenomenon than Jim Crow segregation. And defining “resegregation” can be tricky, especially when there are more than two ethnic groups involved and where the number of white students relative to nonwhites is declining anyhow, as the Post story acknowledges. 

It is true that some public schools are better than others, and that the schools that rich kids go to will often be better than the schools that poor kids go to, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve all schools. What’s even better is giving parents more choice in where to send their children, though of course this is less popular with the Left, because it is unpopular with teachers’ unions. 

In any event, there is no reason to use the racial makeup of a school as a proxy for whether it is a good school or a bad school.  In fact, that would be racist, wouldn’t it?

P.S.  To make matters worse, this “resegregation” non-problem is being used to justify a bad bill that has just been introduced in Congress:  one that would make it easier for plaintiffs to bring dubious “disparate impact” lawsuits against anyone who gets federal money and isn’t getting their racial numbers“right.” 

Read about this bad bill here.

Asian American Groups File Discrimination Complaints -- A number of Asian American groups are filing a complaint this week against Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale for admissions discrimination.  

You can read the complaint here.

Of course, it is not really a matter of dispute that whites and Asian Americans are discriminated against vis-a-vis “underrepresented minorities” (that is, blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans). That much is admitted by the schools themselves. 

The question is whether the politically correct discrimination is so ham-handed that it violates the constraints the Supreme Court has put on it, and whether the discrimination against Asian Americans is likewise vis-a-vis whites, which remains politically incorrect. Still, the complaint is welcome, especially as we continue to await the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, which one hopes will put still more constraints on all racial discrimination in university admissions.

Speaking of which …

“Quotas Must Mean Lower Standards” -- So says the chancellor of Oxford.  Glad we’ve got that settled.  Although some approaches lower standards even more than simple racial quotas …

Criminals on Campus -- The Obama administration is encouraging universities to admit more criminals, and of course the soft-on-crime, pro-quota New York Times thinks this is a swell idea. 

Now, I’m sure that there are some people with criminal records who ought to be admitted to schools, and some who should not. I’m also sure (1) that the decision is one for schools to make, not the federal government, and (2) that the decision should not be driven by the racial makeup of who gets in and who doesn’t, which naturally is what the Obama administration’s “(“disparate impact”) focus is.

Finally, and also speaking of felons, last week I participated in a debate sponsored by the National Constitution Center on the recent decision by Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe to reenfranchise over 200,000 felons.  You can listen to the debate here.  I was also interviewed about the issue on National Public Radio and for Australian television (there’s a brief clip of me at about the two-minute mark here).