Thursday, January 13, 2011; 7:16 PM
America's strength has always been a function of its diversity, so it is troubling to see North Carolina's Wake County School Board taking steps to reverse a long-standing policy to promote racial diversity in its schools ["In N.C., a new battle on school integration," front page, Jan. 12]. The board's action has led to a complaint that has prompted an investigation by our Office for Civil Rights, but it should also prompt a conversation among educators, parents and students across America about our core values.
Those core values, embodied in our founding documents, subsequent amendments and court rulings, include equity and diversity in education and opportunity. In fact, on Monday we celebrate the life and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose movement for racial equality inspired a nation and brought us closer to the more perfect union envisioned by our founders.
In an increasingly diverse society like ours, racial isolation is not a positive outcome for children of any color or background. School is where children learn to appreciate, respect and collaborate with people different from themselves. I respectfully urge school boards across America to fully consider the consequences before taking such action. This is no time to go backward.WaPo gave Arne's letter the heading, "Maintaining Racial Diversity in Schools," to which Arne no doubt would nod his approval. What the letter does, in fact, is to bring into stark contrast Arne's stated position on diversity in schools with his implemented policy to remove all caps and restrictions on apartheid charter schools, with no regard whatsoever to the segregative effects of these corporate welfare outfits that drain money away from public education--despite the fact that less than 20 percent of them demonstrate higher test scores than matched public schools.
Arne Duncan, Washington
This is truly hypocrisy on a mind-boggling scale, just in time, nonetheless, for Dr. King's day of commemoration.