Race-based decisions in education may diminish public confidence in schools, professor says

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Supreme Court began hearing arguments this week on the constitutionality of using racial guidelines to maintain integration in classrooms. The Court is considering two cases in which parents from Seattle, Wash., and Louisville, Ky., sued after their children were not allowed to attend preferred schools.

Dr. Richard Fossey, a professor in the University of North Texas' Department of Teacher Education and Administration, said the Court's review of Seattle's voluntary integration plan takes place in the context of "severe racial isolation in most of the nation's inner-city districts, where African-American or Latino students may make up 90 percent of a school district's study body."

"In the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education, the federal courts wrestled with segregated schools for more than 50 years, but racial isolation persists and is getting worse," said Fossey, an expert in education law who has written several articles about school desegregation.

A ruling from the Court is expected in the ensuing months.

"The question public school educators will be asking is this - which decision by the Supreme Court in the Seattle case is the one that will best help eliminate racial isolation in the public schools? Some people believe that Seattle's voluntary integration plan will help achieve that goal," Fossey says. "Others believe that race-based decisions in public education will diminish public confidence in the schools and accelerate the flight of the middle class out of the cities and into the suburbs or private schools."

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