From this illuminating piece of journalism in Miller-McCune, we are reminded again of the quickly-cementing image of an Administration emasculated by its fear and cowardice to address the social and economic issues that must be put on the table if the Republic is to survive. If it is not fear and cowardice, then it is complicity, which recommends Obama-Duncan to even a hotter circle of Hell:
. . . . School districts have been moving away from integrated classrooms that could yield these benefits for several reasons, Siegel-Hawley says. A series of Supreme Court decisions since the 1990s, culminating with a key 2007 ruling, have disarmed integration initatives and left districts confused about their remaining options. The basic residential segregation that feeds segregated schools (and, more broadly, segregated school districts) persists. And the rise of school choice also contributes (a challenge Siegel-Hawley’s colleague recently discussed with Miller-McCune.com).
John Brittain, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia and the former chief counsel of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, cites one other factor.
“The federal government, both the executive branch and the legislative branch, have virtually abandoned school integration,” he said.
He’s one of many advocates who have been disappointed by the Obama administration’s slow response to the topic. Civil rights leaders have been waiting for guidance from the Department of Education interpreting the 2007 Supreme Court ruling, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. The department is still posting on its website an old Bush-era memo that Brittain says ignores integration guidance proposed by the case’s deciding vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“It left schools thinking that in the worst sense,” Brittain said, “school integration had pretty much come to an end unless it was a court-ordered school case.”
Parents Involved limited districts’ ability to consider the individual race of a student when making school assignment decisions. But Kennedy outlined another path — through strategic site selection, districts could build new schools or draw attendance zones with the demographics of a neighborhood in mind.
“These are mechanisms that are race-conscious because they’re taking race into account,” Brittain said. “But they do not lead to different treatment of students based upon a classification that tells each student he or she is to be defined by race in terms of where they go to school.”
The Obama administration has suggested to civil rights leaders that the new guidance is on the way.
“But it’s still taken them too long, even if they’ve got a plan,” Brittain said. “It shouldn’t take 22 months, going on two years, to do this.”
Other integration advocates have urged officials to publicly make the case that desegregation still matters — especially in an age when the nation’s broader demographics (and future work force) are shifting so rapidly.
“They’re trying so hard to get it so right,” Brittain said of the current administration, “that they end up doing so little, and it takes them so long.”