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Supreme Court Stands up for Equality

In a major decision, the Supreme Court has stood up against race-based discrimination. Apparently, Seattle and Louisville, KY wanted to use race as a determining factor in assigning students to schools. Apparently, the justification was that the schools had to make race-based decisions to ensure racial diversity at the schools. The Majority found that race based school assignments was an “extreme approach” in light of the Supreme Court’s history on this subject. I chose a MLK pic to accompany this article because he is the embodiment of equal rights – not preferential rights. As an Icon for equality, I felt his pic was a good match.

Not surprisingly, the radical left, The Politically Correct, and many “special rights for minority” groups are outraged. Don’t get me wrong, I am as aware of in equalities in schools as anyone. Poor, or in PC Speak ‘underprivileged’ schools are, and always will be worse than rich schools. The students from poor schools will have fewer opportunities, and the better teachers will try to move to the better schools. In a rare touch with reality, the Supreme Court has finally acknowledged that any decisions based on race are discrimination, and wrong.

Yes, it might feel nice to know that our Government is taking kids from the inner city and sending them to the suburbs to hang out with the middle and upper middle class kids. But what about the kids from that suburban school that are bussed to the inner city? Having been in that situation in the late 60’s and early 70’s, me and my middle class friends didn’t bus to the inner city. Instead, our parents figured out a way send us to private schools, prep schools, or another suburban school district. So much for the “enrichment” of the inner city schools. But what about all those inner city kids that were given the privelege of going to a “rich” school? Most of them had no idea how to fit in. Many of them refused to come. Eventually, as more of the inner city kids started attending the suburban schools, the inevitable ocurred, and the schools lowered their standards to the lowest common denominator. In reality, the poor quality of the inner city schools was carried with the students to the suburban schools. As the suburban schools attempted to deal with the less-prepared inner city kids, the schools standards had to drop. The school could not hold back the unprepared kids, because that would be discrimination – after all, they were from the inner city.

So, now the Supreme Court has decided that assigning kids to schools based on race is a no-no. This doesn’t do anything to address the problems of school inequality, but it does begin to address the discrimination that is rampant in our society. I’m not talking about discrimination against minorities (which is bad), I’m talking about discrimination in support of minorities – which is just as bad. The concept of racial quotas at schools, colleges, and Universities has been SOP for many years. The idea is that this will make it impossible for the schools to only accept non-minority students. The problem with this approach is that the schools should be making their decisions based on qualifications, not race.

An example of what this leads to: When I was working at University, we created a new Neurobiology Department. One year, we had 2 graduate student positions open. We had a handfull of applications, two of whom met our entrance requirements – one of whom far exceeded them. However, being a very new department, we had very few minority students (We only had a handful of students at the time, and in reality, there just weren’t that many minority students looking for graduate Neurobiology degrees). Anyway, the long and short of it was that we could not accept either of the qualified students because they were not minorities. The  very overqualified student and I had a discussion, and it turned out that he was legally and American Indian. The prospective student was encouraged to update his application to reflect that status, and when he did, he was instantly accepted. This isn’t some theoretical story – this is real, and unfortunately very common. The good news is that the department was not willing to lower its standards simply to fill a slot with a minority – it was decided that the slots would simply stay open indefinitely, and when the University modified it’s policy on graduate admissions, the most-qualified students would be offered the open slots.

The real test for any preferential program is to reverse the results, and see how it looks. If a program is designed to encourage minority students to go to Harvard, how would it look if the program was changed to encourage white middle class students to got Harvard? If flipping the entitlement results in something uncomfortable, the program is probably discriminatory, and wrong. (A more appropriate approach would be to create a program to encourage students to go to Harvard – perhaps based on academic performance?)

The Supreme Court has indicated that they will no longer tolerate this type of discrimination at the public school levels. Perhaps, they are beginning to realize that discrimination – ANY discrimination – is bad, and that discriminating in favor of minorities may help the occasional individual, but harms many more than it helps. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of preferential treatment of minorities. We can only hope (and vote).


2 Responses

  1. The Black female principal of my grandchildren’s school has decided that she could not place my granddaughter in with a desired teacher because she had to equal out the number of black, white, hispanic children ine each classroom. I thought that the above Supreme Court decision ceased that practice. Please provide me with name of the case above.

    Thanks, J. Shain

  2. The decision was made in late June of 2007. I don’t recall the exact name of it though. However, I don’t think that this will help you muchi nyour case. This case had a lot more to do with setting up school districts and assigning kids to schools based on race. How the principle decides on calssroom assignments isprobably out of the realm of this case.

    I am surprised that any public school administrator would admit to setting classes up based on race. If the principle actually did (especially if you have it in writing, or have witnesses), a discussion with the local school board or superintendant will proabbly get you what you want – esepcially if you mention thining about talking to a laywer or the ACLU.

    good luck

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