More SCOTUS Race…Back To Bakke?

Having now had time to read the decision, I can see why some are finding silver linings in Justice Kennedy’s opinion, but no matter how you slice it this is still bad news for deliberate plans that consider race in school assignment. Justice Stevens puts it pretty succinctly when he writes, in dissent, “It is my firm conviction that no Member of the Court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today’s decision.” That’s the trajectory here. WaPo Ed board looks at that, worth reading.

UVA’s indispensable James Ryan makes the Bakke silver lining analogy here, a lot of people are hoping the same thing, but I’m pessimistic. Between the threat of litigation and the uncertainty of exactly what would pass muster, not sure how many school districts will want to try this, especially because these plans are always at least somewhat controversial anyway. Rick Kahlenberg says economically focused plans are the way forward in a timely report (pdf), so timely it’s almost as though he anticipated this decision…

Also, Joel Klein makes the important pragmatic point in today’s NY Sun:

The city’s schools chancellor, Joel Klein, in an appearance yesterday on WNYC radio, said, “Almost three quarters of our students are African American and Latino. In an environment like that, a focus on racial balance seems to me to be not the way to solve the problem. A focus on high-quality education for every kid in every school I think is the way.”

Update: See Slate for more Kahlenberg pushing for economics and channeling Mike Casserly’s pessimism on race (but not in that order). Here’s Casserly in the WaPo:

“The court has left us feeling good about the overarching theory but left us very little maneuvering room to reach that intent,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of the nation’s largest urban public school systems. “Many school districts are likely to give up.”

That seems about right. Also, be sure to check out the NACCP’s School Integration Blog for a good round-up of news etc…

Update II: Also see this from Mike Petrilli and this response on the School Integration Blog. I agree with many of Mike’s ideas here but don’t see them as mutually exclusive with relatively modest plans to also try to deal with the problem of school segregation. But, again, pragmatism demands action now and the court ruling is what it is.

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