Thursday, June 28, 2007

Common Sense from the US Supreme Court

Why use race to determine whether or not someone can go to a particular school? The US Supreme Court rules that you should NOT. I agree with the decision for two reasons

1. Using race is discriminatory and arbitrary

2. Forcing kids to go to school in a different part of the city from where they live is fundamentally unfair when schools exist in their area that they would be happy to attend

Can you imagine if you had a family function taking place and your school was way off in the 'boonies' and one parent was forced to drive all the way to pick up their child? or your kid had to take a taxi because he missed a bus? How inconvenient would that be? Why should you have to suffer to ensure some bureaucratically set racial quota was filled?

More importantly, why should you have to send your child to a school in an area where you wouldn't want to live? You choose the neighbourhood, or suburb you live in because it suits you. Why should the government essentially deprive you of your freedom to choose?

This is about being free to make your own choices and not have them dictated or limited by government fiat. People accept enough control over their lives from government, deciding where their kids can go to school shouldn't be one of them.

Invariably, the people who are made to suffer are those who don't have the financial means to enroll their kids in a private school where they live. Why should they be made to pay for a racial system designed to make other people feel 'better' about themselves for ensuring 'diversity' in the community?

People advocating for 'diversity' should put their OWN kids into public schools, in the areas they want OTHER people's kids to go to, first.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected diversity plans that take account of students' race for assignments in Seattle's public schools.

The decision, covering two similar cases involving the Seattle and Louisville, Ky., schools could imperil similar plans in hundreds of districts nationwide, and it leaves public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment.

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts wrote. The ruling applies to school districts that aren't under a court order to remove the vestiges of past discrimination.

The decision strips school boards of a tool for offsetting the impact of racially divided housing patterns. Both sides say they don't know precisely how many school districts nationwide have similar rules, though lawyers say the practice is common, perhaps involving hundreds of districts and millions of children.

Federal appeals courts had upheld both the Seattle and Louisville plans after some parents sued. The Bush administration took the parents' side, arguing that racial diversity is a noble goal but can be sought only through race-neutral means.

The Seattle case began when a group of parents formed Parents Involved in Community Schools and sued the district in 2000, claiming the policy of using race as a tiebreaker when determining school assignments was unfair and violated students' civil rights.

Kathleen Brose, president of Parents Involved in Community Schools, fought back tears as she discussed her victory.

"It's been seven years. A lot of people have moved on, but I don't want another parent to go through what I did -- what we did," she said during a news conference.

Her daughter Elisabeth, now 22, wanted to attend Ballard High School, the closet high school to their Magnolia home. But she wasn't able to get into the school -- or into Roosevelt or Nathan Hale either.

She was assigned to her fourth choice -- Franklin -- but the school didn't have an orchestra for Elisabeth to pay her cello. So she ended up at her fifth choice, Ingraham, for a year. She later transferred to a new school that opened at Seattle Center, The Center School.

The move was upsetting to the girl, who couldn't attend high school with her friends from junior high. Children are taught not to judge people by their skin color, yet students were denied access to certain schools because of their race, said Brose, whose younger daughter now attends Ballard High School.

"The public schools are for all of us," she said.

Seattle Public Schools is in the midst of revamping its process for assigning students to schools, and it was unclear Thursday morning how the ruling would affect the district's plans. School district officials were not available for comment Thursday morning, but scheduled a morning news conference to discuss the ruling.

The school district's policy also affected students of color, said Seattle attorney Harry Korrell, who represented the parents. Some non-whites who wanted to attend neighborhood high school Franklin were turned away because there were too many students of color there and the district wanted to enroll more white students.

"It's a sweeping victory for students and parents everywhere," Korrell said.

The racial tiebreaker that the Supreme Court struck down Thursday hasn't been in use in Seattle Public Schools for more than five years.

The tiebreaker was part of a School Board decision in 1997 to allow the district's 46,000 students to attend a school of their choice. The assignment plan they adopted that year aimed to end the district's widely unpopular mandatory busing program and return to a neighborhood schools assignment plan, so students could attend school closer to home.

School officials considered a student's race as one of several tiebreakers at popular schools; their race was a factor if the student's attendance would help bring the high school closer to the district-wide average of about 40 percent white students. The tiebreaker helped some minority students get into predominately white high schools, and vice versa.

A student with a sibling at a school got first priority; a student's race was the second tiebreaker, followed by the distance a student lived from the school.

The district has defended the racial tiebreaker, arguing it is necessary to create more diverse schools in a city where many neighborhoods are still segregated.

The Seattle lawsuit accused the school district of violating the Constitution, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and voter-approved Initiative 200, a state law prohibiting preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender.

The case challenged only the use of the racial tiebreaker for high-school assignments, but the district in 2002 suspended the use of the tiebreaker for all schools while the lawsuit worked its way through the courts.

Since then, the district has used the other tiebreakers, such as whether the student lived nearby or had any siblings attending the school, to determine assignments.

Enrollment records show the racial makeup at some Seattle high schools has changed since the district suspended the use of the racial tiebreaker. A few examples:

# At Ballard High School, white students made up slightly more than 58 percent of the student population in 2000; that rose to more than 62 percent in 2006.

# At Cleveland High School, the percentage of black students increased from 35 percent in 2000 to just over 59 percent last fall; during the same time period, the percentage of Asian students dropped from nearly 43 percent to just under 23 percent.

# At Franklin High School, white students made up about 23 percent of the population in 2000 and declined to just over 9 percent by 2006. Over the same time period, the percentage of Asian students at the school rose from about 39 percent to more than 48 percent.

Louisville's schools spent 25 years under a court order to eliminate the effects of state-sponsored segregation. After a federal judge freed the Jefferson County, Ky., school board, which encompasses Louisville, from his supervision, the board decided to keep much of the court-ordered plan in place to prevent schools from re-segregating.

The lawyer for the Louisville system called the plan a success story that enjoys broad community support, including among parents of white and black students.

The opinion was the first on the divisive issue since 2003, when a 5-4 ruling upheld the limited consideration of race in college admissions to attain a diverse student body.

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1 comment:

TeraRoop11 said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Veerji, on my blog you asked for a feed - I'd give it to you, but I don't know exactly how.. if you could maybe explain it? I'm not really very.. umm.. technology smart.

Sorry! =)

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!