Still Debating Desegregation

La Shawn Barber explains why desegregation should not be used solely to correct racial imbalance.

During legalized racial segregation, students were assigned to schools based on race. Whites and blacks were educated in separate facilities. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this practice was no longer tolerable in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education.

Fifty-two years later, some students still are being assigned to schools based on race. Monday, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments for lawsuits filed by white parents in Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., challenging their school districts’ use of race in assigning students in an effort to achieve “racial balance.”

In the United States, people are free to move wherever they wish for any reason (for now), and many parents choose to move to better neighborhoods so their children can attend better schools. Consequently, some schools enroll disproportionate numbers of students from certain racial groups and socioeconomic classes, which is neither immoral nor illegal.

But bureaucrats believe otherwise. For the sake of so-called diversity, school districts have violated the rights of parents, discriminated against students based on race, and made a mockery of Brown, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the U.S. Constitution.

The issue in Brown was whether the segregation of children in government schools solely on the basis of race deprived black children of equal educational opportunities.

Implicit in the court’s reasoning was that government-mandated racial segregation was anathema to the notion of equal protection, not segregation per se. The court ordered government schools to desegregate, which was not the same as forcing individuals to integrate.

If the intent of Brown wasn’t clear, then the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should remove all doubt:

“Desegregation” means the assignment of students to public schools and within such schools without regard to their race, color, religion, or national origin, but “desegregation” shall not mean the assignment of students to public schools in order to overcome racial imbalance.

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