NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

RULING SENDS CLEAR MESSAGE

June 29, 2007

The Supreme Court sent a loud and clear message yesterday when justices sided with concerned parents in rejecting school board policies in Seattle and Louisville that assigned students to schools based on their skin color.  Very simply, such policies are unconstitutional, the court ruled, says Sharon L. Browne, a principal attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The school boards that implemented the policies tried to dress up their skin color assignment of students with talk of "diversity," but the reality was they were turning children away at the schoolhouse because of the color of their skin, says Browne:

  • In Seattle, black students were told they couldn't go to a high school of their choice because there were too many minorities there already.
  • White students were told they couldn't go to a high school of their choice because there were too many whites there.
  • Seattle school officials wanted high schools to be about 40 percent white and 60 percent minority.
  • In Jefferson County, Ky., the racial balancing plan ensured that no school had a black student population of less than 15 percent or greater than 50 percent.

Such practices make no sense.  Moreover, while these decisions directly apply to these two school districts, their impact reaches coast to coast to other school districts that have similar policies or are planning to implement them.

Instead of trying to "fix" poorly performing schools with race-based assignments, our school officials should improve the quality of education at all schools.  That will bring real equality to each child in America, says Browne.

Source: Sharon Browne, "Ruling sends clear message: Race-based assignments have no place in efforts to improve schools," June 29, 2007.

 

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