Maintaining Diversity and Equal Opportunity in Ohio Schools
john a. powell Executive Director, The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race &Ethnicity and Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of LawA Presentation for the Ohio State Board of EducationJune 8, 2009
In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court announced that segregation on the basis of race was unconstitutional, and that ‗separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.‘ 347 U.S. 495 (1954).
Although an enormous moral victory, the Brown decision did not dismantle segregative practices nor produce an integrated society. Instead, the decision provoked massive resistance, and a full decade passed with virtually no progress in desegregating schools. The Crisis in Little Rock, 1958
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 empowered the Department of Justice to initiate desegregation lawsuits independent of private plaintiffs. Subsequently, the Supreme Court issued a number of important decisions that lent support to desegregation efforts.
In Green v. County School Board (1968), the Court defined what desegregation required, the elimination of segregation ‗root and branch.‘ In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenberg (1971), the Court ruled that lower courts could order busing to achieve desegregated student assignments.
In Keyes v. School Dist. No. 1 (1973), the Court extended school desegregation obligations to systems outside of the South that had employed discriminatory policies. Furthermore, this is true whether school districts or officials contributed either in the creation or ―maintenance‖ of segregated schooling. Inaction as well as action could be a basis for liability.
In Penick v. Columbus Board of Education (1977), judge Robert Duncan ruled that the Columbus Board of Education knowingly kept white and black students apart by creating school boundaries that sent black students to predominantly black schools and white students to predominantly white schools, and had failed to use its authority to alleviate existing racial imbalances. The United States Supreme Court affirmed. Distinguished Jurist Robert M. Duncan
By the mid-1970s, the Court began to slowly withdraw its support for school desegregation. In Miliken v. Bradley (1974), the Court ruled that lower courts could not order an ‗inter- district‘ remedy that encompassed suburban districts without first showing that the suburban district was liable.
The effect of the decision was to sanction white flight and jurisdictional fragmentation to escape the Brown mandate. Between 1950 and 1990, the number of municipalities in major metropolitan areas grew from 193 to 9,600. During the 1990s alone, the suburban population grew 17.7% compared to 9% for cities.
The 1990s ushered in another significant shift Between 1991 and 1995 (see Jenkins), the Supreme Court invited school districts to bring proceedings to terminate desegregation obligations. Even though severe racial disparities and racial isolation remained, this marked the beginning of the end of court supervision and the return local control of schools.
U.S. public schools are now more than a decade into rapid resegregation: ◦ Almost 1 in 6 black and Latino students are hyper- segregated, and attend schools in which the student body is 99-100% minority. ◦ Nearly 40% of black and Latino students attend ‗intensely segregated schools,‘ in which 90-100% of the students are minority. ◦ Whites are the most isolated group of students. The typical white student attends a school that is 80% white, which is much higher than their share of overall public school enrollment.
Similar to the trends in the nation, Columbus witnessed a sharp out migration of white population to the suburbs in 1970‘s as a result of court-ordered busing. The urban core remains heavily minority and the extreme northern, northwestern, and southerwestern surbuban areas remains heavily white. There exists a transition zone between highly African-American dominated and White dominated public elementary schools.
School Dissimilarity Index 1970, 1990, 2000 (African American - White Segregation)90.0 82.680.0 81.6 69.070.0 66.860.050.0 53.440.030.020.0 23.210.0 1970 1990 2000 All Districts in Columbus Region Columbus Public School District
The segregation of students is actually more severe than residential segregation patterns because of racial concentration. Since 1970 African Americans have become less concentrated in Franklin County But few African Americans have moved beyond the boundaries of the Columbus Public Schools since 1970
N African American PopulationW E S in Franklin County by Census Tract 1970 Prepared by: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity Date: 10/13/05 Source: Census, NCDB Legend: Columbus Public School District Highways % African American 0 - 5% 5 - 10% 10 to 25% 25 to 50% 50 to 100%
N African American PopulationW E S in Franklin County by Census Tract 1980 Prepared by: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity Date: 10/13/05 Source: Census, NCDB Legend: Columbus Public School District Highways % African American 0 - 5% 5 - 10% 10 to 25% 25 to 50% 50 to 100%
N African American PopulationW E S in Franklin County by Census Tract 2000 Prepared by: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity Date: 10/13/05 Source: Census, NCDB Legend: Columbus Public School District Highways % African American 0 - 5% 5 - 10% 10 to 25% 25 to 50% 50 to 100%
After decades of integration efforts and hard won gains, many districts concerned that the reversion to neighborhood schools and local control would result in rapid resegregation implemented voluntary integration plans. This refers to integration efforts and strategies that a school system might employ, absent a legal obligation to do so.
School districts around the country, from Boston to Berkeley, implemented voluntary integration plans. These plans included redrawing attendance zones, student transfers, magnet school programs to retain diverse schools amidst a backdrop of residential segregation.
Seattle implemented a choice plan that would assign students to oversubscribed schools on the basis of a series of tiebreakers. 1. sibling attendance. 2. Racial imbalance – 15% plus/minus from racial makeup of school system as a whole. 3. School distance. After 25 years of court supervised desegregation, Louisville implemented a managed choice plan that includes broad racial guidelines which requires each school to seek black enrollment of at least 15% and no more than 50%. 25
Parents of non-minority students sued the Seattle and Jefferson County school districts, claiming that the student assignment plans denied their children the equal protection of law under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. In 2007, the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs and declared, in a 4-1-4 decision, that the Seattle and Louisville school districts used impermissible racial classifications in student assignment in violation of the Constitution.
The Court found that the plans at issue were not narrowly tailored. The use of the racial tiebreaker within a particular +/- range was Constitutional infirm. However, the Court also allowed for the use of race in some circumstances and affirmed maintaining diverse schools—as well as the prevention of racially isolated schools—as compelling state interests.
Justice Kennedy‘s opinion is controlling as the fifth vote. 28
J. Kennedy, Concurring That the school districts consider these plans to be necessary should remind us that our highest aspirations are yet unfulfilled. School districts can seek to reach Brown‘s objective of equal educational opportunity. But the solutions mandated by these school districts must themselves be lawful. In my view, the state-mandated racial classifications at issue, official labels proclaiming the race of all personsin a broad class of citizens – elementary school students in one case, high school students in another – are unconstitutional as the cases now come to us.
―If school authorities are concerned that the student- body compositions of certain schools interfere with the objective of offering an equal educational opportunity to all of their students, they are free to devise race- conscious measures to address the problem in a general way without treating each student in a different fashion soley on the basis of systematic, individual typing by race. School boards may pursue the goal of bringing together students of diverse backgrounds and races through other means, including strategic site selection of new schools; drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the demographics of the neighborhoods; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and otherstatistics by race. These mechanisms are race-conscious but do not leadto different treatment based on a classifications that tells each student he or she is to be defined by race. 30
School districts are free to pursue socioeconomic integration, using indicators such as income, wealth, parental educational attainment. Districts can also be ―race conscious,‖ according to Kennedy, when they drew school boundaries, chose sites for new schools and directed money to particular programs. But they are limited to taking into account the racial composition of a neighborhood rather than the race of an individual student.
Opportunity mapping of educational opportunity is a multi-factor approach that looks at many indicators which correlate with educational performance. The idea behind this strategy is to identify neighborhoods which are the most disadvantageous environments for educational success, looking at a number of factors producing cumulative disadvantage for students residing in these neighborhoods. 32
Some possible indicators: ◦ Per-pupil Expenditures ◦ Parental educational level ◦ Student Poverty Rate/Free and Reduced Lunch ◦ Median Household Income ◦ Test Scores for Neighborhood Schools ◦ Teacher Quality (Experience, Qualifications, etc) To map educational opportunity in the Seattle and Louisville districts, our analysis focused on factors correlated with students‘ academic performance and achievement.
While concentrated neighborhood poverty is often correlated with race, race is not reducible to income differentials, and therefore a multi- factor analysis better captures a significant number of students of color, rather than using poverty rates alone. In fact, the study results were striking: in Louisville, only 56% of families in high poverty neighborhoods were African American, whereas nearly 76% of the families residing in low educational opportunity areas were African American.
The Jefferson County School District adopted a modified version of our recommendation. ◦ They divided the region into two geographic areas, with the diversity guideline that each school within the cluster have no less than 15% and no more than 50% of its student population from schools in Geographic area A. ◦ The indicators they chose to create these geographic zones are: Median household income Racial composition of the resides area Average educational attainment of the adults in the resides area.
The Berkeley, California, school district implemented a similar plan. It looked at: ◦ Average neighborhood household income ◦ Parental educational level of adults at the neighborhood level ◦ Racial composition of the neighborhood This plan was recently upheld in the California court of appeals. The court held that using demographic information at the neighborhood level, including racial data, does not classify students on the basis of race nor discriminate on the basis of race.
The procedures implemented by the Ohio State Board of Education resolution adopted on June 12, 1978, to monitor and assess the racial balance within elementary and secondary schools is entirely legal and would provide critical information on the degree of diversity in Ohio schools.
Siting schools in areas that would naturally draw a diverse student body was another race- conscious suggestion in Kennedy‘s opinion that the State of Ohio could use to achieve integrative outcomes. Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, requires its school board to consider the socioeconomic diversity of nearby housing and the availability of public transit lines decisions about where to build schools. This criteria could conceivable include consideration of neighborhood racial compositions.
Interdistrict magnet schools are one of the remedies that Connecticut adopted in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that the state desegregate schools in the Hartford region. Students are chosen from a lottery of applicants from both Hartford and suburban districts with preference given to siblings of students already attending the school. The Board could recommend the implementation of inter-district transfers or the development of inter-district magnet schools as a means of alleviating racial isolation within Ohio schools and increasing educational performance.
St. Louis operates a city-suburban transfer program, originally implemented in the early 1980s under court order and continued under voluntary terms since 1999. Recently, the participating districts extended the program through at least 2013-14. At its peak, nearly half of St. Louis children were participating in one of the interdistrict programs (Heaney and Uchitelle, 2004). St. Louis suburban districts were required to participate and to accept enough St. Louis students to meet targets for minority percentage. The state initially bore the costs of the program (such as transportation, staff to help students adjust) but since 1999, the programs have been funded through a voter-approved tax increase.