Friday, June 29, 2007

Supreme Court Addresses Segregation

This post will not be about the Bachelor party I went on over the weekend. That may or may not end up happening.

This post will be about the recent Supreme Court ruling 'PARENTS INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 ET AL.' For ease of reading, I will refer to this case as 'Parents' .

I havent written a legal brief since my senior year in college, but I can't resist the opportunity to comment on the latest Supreme Court ruling. (On a side note, I have a double minor in Politcal Science and Political Analysis from Miami University, so while I clearly am not a lawyer, I do have a limited background in legal studies.

If youd like to read the full text of the opinion - it is available here

In Parents , The Supreme Court was asked to review the use of race in determining attendance for school districts in Kentucky and Seattle. Both school systems, like many others around the country, had practices in place to determine which schools children should attend based on their race. The Jefferson County district had suspended the policy because of the suit, while the policy is still in place in the Seattle schools.

Parents took issue with the policy for a number of reasons. One of the main complaints of the plaintiffs was around the busing that took place in order to attain "reasonable" standards of integration.

For those of you who did not have busing, I'll explain it in the most simple terms: Neighborhoods are often racially homogenous, leaving a nearby school with a similar racial makeup. Understandably, objections are raised when this happens. The busing solution simply says 'Lets take kids from their neighborhoods, stick them on a bus for 45 minutes to get to their school, despite the existance of a school much closer'. The result may lead to more integration, but at a steep cost to those children.

Let me go on record as stating that I am biased. Instead of attending Parkmoor elementary, a school 2 block from my home, I caught the bus there - for a 45 minute bus ride into a less than safe neighborhood. Instead of middle school a 5 minute walk from my home, I was assigned to Champion middle school. For those not from Columbus - that is the worst neighborhood in Columbus. I was forunate enough to enter a lottery that allowed me to go to Franklin - a better school in a only slightly less dangerous neighborhood. Yes - drivebys were not uncommon.

Back to the case - over the last 30 years the Supreme Court has stood by using race as a factor to try and achieve integration. Most recently in 2003 the court upheld a college's practice of using race to determine college admission standards.

2007 is a new year - with new Justices. The court is no longer controlled by liberal activists. In Parents, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents. They struck down the racially discrimination policies that were in place. They reasoned that the policies placed an undue burden on the limited number of students that were affected. The policy violated their constitutional right to 'Equal protection under the law'.

Justice Roberts also argued that Brown v BOE reasoned that integration was necessary because children had previously been forbidden from attending certain schools - segration was a state supported practice. In Seattle, the schools had never had segregation.

Concluding his thoughts, Justice Roberts states simply "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

On a personal commentary - I applaud the Supreme Court for its ruling. We are entering a new day in America. While it would be foolish to argue that racism no longer exists, we are facing challenges and discriminations far more reaching. The problem in public schools no longer is segregation based on race. It is becoming commonplace for schools to be segregated on class. Those with the financial means to do so leave the inner city school districts, seeking better schools in suburban areas. In doing so, they cannot be blamed for attempting to provide for their children, but this only leads to the further degradation of the inner city public schools.

This a problem that will challenge the very foundation of our society - capitalism. Financial discrimination if you will.. Heres the problem: I certainly will want to send my children to the best school I can.

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