Raleigh, North Carolina, is known as the "City of Oaks," which conveys a sense of permanence. It is also the seat of Wake County, where significant change in the last decade has made its public schools a role model for others. The county is just over 70 percent white, 27 percent black and 9 percent Hispanic. But when their schools are called "integrated," it's really more about economics. Whether a school is located in the suburbs or in poorer neighborhoods, you'll find a mix of wealthy and working-class kids.
A newly Republican school board in Wake County is working to undo that progress:
over the past year, a new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives ... has abolished the policy behind one of the nation's most celebrated integration efforts.
And as the board moves toward a system in which students attend neighborhood schools, some members are embracing the provocative idea that concentrating poor children, who are usually minorities, in a few schools could have merits - logic that critics are blasting as a 21st-century case for segregation.
This is ridiculous ... Simply put, high-poverty schools come with a huge host of problems. They are situated in environments which -- typically -- include high unemployment, low parental engagement, and high crime rates (as well as closer ties to criminal networks). They have a hard time recruiting good teachers and administrators, and their students score far lower than their peers in higher-income schools, from everything to reading and math to music and art. These schools have lower graduation rates and lower rates of college attendance for their graduates.
Conservative school board members might support extra funding for the schools that inevitably revert to concentrated poverty, but the fact is that additional funding does little to ameliorate the problems that come with high-poverty schools. If these conservatives really cared about poor students, they would support the consensus that has benefited Raleigh schools for more than a decade.
After the jump, Bouie also reminds us that the walkback from Brown v. Board of Education has long been underway -- not just in Wake County, but in the Supreme Court that ruled on it in the first place.
In the 1991 Dowell case, the Court ruled that a federal desegregation order could be ended even if it subsequently resulted in resegregation. The next year in Freeman v. Pitts, the Court held that a school district that had been under judicial review for school segregation could be freed of this review, even if some desegregation targets remained. This was followed by Missouri v. Jenkins in 1995, where the Court overturned the ruling -- from a lower court -- that the state was required to correct for de facto segregation in its schools. And in 2007, Chief Justice John Roberts -- writing for himself, Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito -- ruled that racial balancing for the purpose of diversity is unconstitutional, with Roberts capping his argument by disingenuously asserting that "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."