DIVERSITY IS GOOD FOR KIDS
Although more than fifty years have passed since Brown v. Board of Education, segregation and racist attitudes are not a thing of the past. In fact, our schools are now more segregated than they were in 1970. If there are no policies in place to help keep schools representative of their larger home communities, the battles for desegregation would have to be fought in court again and again as schools fall in and out of a segregation/desegregation cycle.
Every student should have a fair chance to reach his or her full educational potential and be educated in integrated settings. Opportunity and equality are not just core American values, they are core legal principles that the federal courts have upheld in the past. We are still feeling the effects of a long legacy of segregation and racial discrimination in this country, particularly in public education. Programs that try to make sure student bodies are diverse, and that all children have an equal opportunity to succeed, even young children, can only benefit us in the long run.
Two cases involving programs that address racial isolation are before the Supreme Court. The two cases from Seattle and Louisville, KY, could affect millions of children nationwide. In 2003, the Court said that affirmative action programs were constitutional and that racial diversity is a valid, important goal for institutions of higher education. Shouldn't our kids have the same benefits? We think so.
But you didn't just hear it from us. Here is what some others are saying about these cases and diversity:
The Opportunity Agenda has a blog post about the "Mixed Messages from the Supreme Court" and a guest post by Robert Anthony Watts about why the Supreme Court should affirm the importance of integrated classrooms and diversity in its upcoming decision about the two schools cases. He says, among other things, that "a key finding -- cited by Louisville and Seattle in their court briefs -- is that integration produces educational benefits as well as societal benefits of increased racial and ethnic understanding. Research also shows that racially diverse classes improve critical thinking skills for all students, and that learning in a diverse setting improves problem solving and communication skills for all students."
Alan Jenkins wrote an Op-Ed posted at TomPaine.com, called "Schools of Many Colors," that talks of the "parents and kids in hundreds of communities around the country" awaiting the two schools cases currently being decided by the Supreme Court that "consider whether local school districts? voluntary efforts to foster racially diverse schools are lawful under the Constitution." He says that the court's decision should be "a resounding 'yes.'"
The NAACP says in a piece called "Volunteer School Integration Is under Threat" that it "goes without saying that decisions in these cases will have important implications for the spirit of Brown v. Board of Education, and for American democracy."
The American Constitution's Society's blog says striking down the policies of the schools "would put students who seek quality, integrated public schools between the proverbial rock and a hard place -- by making it more difficult to make the evidentiary showing required to justify court-ordered desegregation, while disempowering school districts who want to pursue voluntary integration of their own accord."
And here, finally, is a list of all the legal briefs filed on behalf of the schools programs.