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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Losing the tools to fight racism

The Supreme Court has done it again. In another 5-4 decision, the court voted to end the use of voluntary schemes to create racial balance among students. My first reaction is sadness and horror. What is up with the Supreme Court this session; claiming to remain true to landmark decisions like Brown v. Board of Education while striking down the very programs that carry them out?

In providing justification for the Court’s declaring of Seattle and Louisville voluntary student assignment plans constitutionally impermissible, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Thanks, Justice Roberts, for that clarification. I never would have been able to figure that one out on my own, I see now why you were chosen as to be the highest judicial officer in the country. If it’s really that simple then why is it that more than one in six black children now attend schools that are 99 to 100 percent minority?

This question forces me to think deeper about the situation of segregation in America’s schools. If Brown was such an important, landmark decision, then why is it that more than 50 years later, the average white kid attends a school that is 80 percent white? Brown was important because it began the civil rights movement and inspired social progress for other minorities, women, gays and the poor, but the idealistic decision is no longer in step with American political and social realities.

After all, what does Brown signify in schools where black and Hispanic children learn demeaning curricula from outdated textbooks, minority teachers are paid a pittance for working in unrewarding and often dangerous environments? Where even the most basic facilities, like toilets, are not maintained, schools where the only white children are mentally or physically disabled or very poor. What do slogans like “No Child Left Behind” mean in a country that depends on the miseducation of minorities and its poor for its labor force?

The fact is that schools

are segregated right now whether the Supreme Court says so or not. But instead of fighting against segregation, the Supreme Court has chosen to stop a modest attempt on the part of two cities to combat segregation-even though 50 years ago a unanimous court ruled that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

What does Brown mean when dropout rates for black and Hispanic high school students are near 50 percent? Race is no longer the biggest reason why minority students overwhelmingly end up in inferior schools. Public schools are funded largely by property taxes, a system that basically looks down on those who live in poorer communities, and oh, you know how education is the only way to get you out of that impoverished neighborhood you were born into? Yeah, well we’re not going to help you with that. Sorry!

So Brown is dead and the current Supreme Court has no qualms about pissing on its gravestone (we were just watering the flowers, we loved Brown, really!). The truth is that half-hearted (and now unconstitutional) integration programs are not the way to solve the problem of inequality in the nation’s schools. Pooling property taxes statewide and distributing them per student capita with additional funds going into disadvantaged schools would go much further toward creating significant change. School financing litigation in state courts is another example of new attempts to solve school inequity through socioeconomic, rather than just racial integration. But the Supreme Court is not interested in creating real solutions, only in striking down the few, admittedly inadequate solutions we do have.

In the fall the Supreme Court will hear appeals from Guant’aacute;namo detainees. That should be good news, but

the current track record of

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