July 20, 2013

"State law says that no school’s nonwhite enrollment can deviate from the districtwide average for schools with the same grade levels by more than 25 percentage points."

Race-balancing in Connecticut.
In addition to New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue Elementary, the two schools on the western edge of town with too few white students, two schools on the far eastern and northern sides of town are flirting with imbalance of an opposite kind: having too few minority children... The imbalance was created by a steady increase in black and Hispanic residents on the western side of [Greenwich]...

Susie Ponce, whose parents are from Colombia, moved to western Greenwich from Queens in 2007. She thinks Hamilton Avenue Elementary, which her two children attend, could have more white children, she said, but it has an array of nationalities.

“If I had a choice, I would keep my kids where they are right now,” said Ms. Ponce, who until recently was the school’s parent coordinator. “Because not only are they getting a great education, they are getting the social-emotional intelligence that I grew up with, just being exposed to other children from different cultures.”
Once the state law is in place, complying with it takes precedence. Who knows what choices would be made without it? But the situation that Ponce likes, that is threatened with change to comply with state law, came into being while that state law was in force. We never get to see what would have happened without that law, which (in some form at least) dates back to the 1960s.

It's easy to think: Why must we talk about "too few" white/nonwhite children? And: If "too few" has important meaning, what is the chance that meaning is well-expressed by a law that defines "too few" in terms of the racial balance happens to be in other places rather than any idea of the classroom benefits of diversity? The Connecticut statute attempts to control the effects of choices about where different people live — choices based in part on affluence and, in some unknown part, on race. It dictates a concept of "too few," and it does so intentionally to block people from thinking about "too few" in a deeper, more substantive way.

By the way, after following the George Zimmerman trial, it's interesting to see the NYT repeatedly and confidently write "Hispanic" as if everyone knows it's a race. The Hispanic woman Susie Ponce speaks of the need for "more white children," and we're not supposed to get confused and think: Aren't her children white? White Hispanic?

29 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

It's early in the morning, and there are a lot of issues here.

Let's try some comments.

Cog said...

The law seems to be about meeting quotas, which gives it its ‘60s flavor. I thought public policy quota formulas were extinct.

Gahrie said...

So...would President Obama count as White or Black under these regulations? Perhaps the school would get credit for .5 of a White student and .5 of a Black student?

Would Sen. Warren count as a White or a minority? How about Zimmerman?

AustinRoth said...

Agree with Cog, especially in the light of recent SCOTUS rulings.

How could this law (pure quotas, regardless of how that formula was derived) possibly pass muster if challenged in court?

Cog said...

Accordingly, President Obama/ Warren/Zimmerman would be counted as minority at the school that was too white and as white at the school that wasn’t white enough.

Ann Althouse said...

On the legal question about quotas, the key case is Parents Involved. (Here's the Wikipedia article about it.)

The higher education affirmative action cases are different from the cases about integration in public schools, and the Court hasn't fully resolved what is a bit of a disconnect.

You can't do affirmative action admissions in higher education without looking at the whole person, with race merely as a factor, and you have to do it for the goal of the educational benefits of classroom diversity. Race balancing is not accepted as a justification for taking race into account here.

But in the K-12 public school context, there obviously has been a lot of race balancing, and students are looked at not as a multitude of "factors," but are classified specifically by race and only race, as you see here in Connecticut.

Parents Involved rejected looking at a particular student and making a decision about him based solely on his race, but it left open other race-conscious decisions that are aimed at balancing the races -- things like creating magnet schools and choices about where to site schools and where to draw the district lines. These are the kinds of decisions that Connecticut is using under the statutory law discussed in the linked article.

David Carlson said...

Race is becoming less and less of an issue simply 1) because of people like Obama and Zimmerman - there is more and more interracial marriage and 2) foreign adoption - 40 years ago a minority in some rural was a protestant or not of german background, never mind anyone not of euro descent. Now, thanks to overseas adoptions, you are seeing other races.

damikesc said...

Given SCOTUS' ever-increasing skepticism involving race-based admissions, this seems like an odd plan to pursue. I do not think these policies have been terribly effective in a long term. De facto segregation isn't remotely synonymous with de jure segregation. This will help insure parental involvement in those schools will plummet. I hope courts consider that and how vital parental involvement is when this eventually reaches them.

kentuckyliz said...

The federal government is the biggest "racial profiler" of all with those race questionnaires for education, employment, and census. I am calling for a strike--nonparticipation. Other:[Human] or Prefer Not To Respond. Or Native American, if you were born in America. Screw up their categories and their profiling and their racial management. Eff 'em.

kentuckyliz said...

Isn't this policy insulting to minorities--your culture and your kids aren't good enough because they aren't white enough?

It's so Caucasiocentric.

Conserve Liberty said...

Mixing by race ratios just doesn't work. No one's needs are met. Those most likely to lead forming desired new social norms act in their own self-interest and leave such pools of students.

We sent our children to public schools. Most neighborhood whites sent their children to parochial schools, so in the MOST racially integrated public elementary school the white population was 20%. Each classroom of 30-33 students had a neat little group of three white boys and three white girls.

When it came time to enroll in extracurricular advanced classes, limited by funding to the top 5% of students across the District and selected by testing (a form of an ordered meritocracy) ALL of the students who qualified were white. The Superintendent immediately changed the rule so that admission was the top 5% at each of the six elementary schools in the District, rounding down. Our child was number 5, so was not sent to the special program. The special program failed miserably and was discontinued.

We moved to another school district whose racial mix is much closer to the population at large.

Our three children are successful, contributing members of society, broad-minded and willing to listen, but skeptical of social liberal applied thinking.

I can't imagine why.

SGT Ted said...

People are choosing their own neighborhoods and the "public servants" then are telling them that they don't get to choose their neighborhood schools if the race mix isn't "correct" and parents and taxpayers have no say-so.

Primary Public Ed needs to be shut down and re-booted.

Education needs to be a priority over Racist Progressive Social Engineering schemes that educate no one.

edutcher said...

Since SCOTUS has blown up a couple of statutes on similar grounds because of this (as noted above), the prospect is when, not if, this hits the courts.

William said...

I went to a Catholic elementary school in that area. The school was all white, but it was far more democratic than the public schools. My classmates were the sons of stockbrokers and shoemakers, and there was quite an assortment of different ethnicities. From what I remember, the kids didn't sort themselves out according to ethnicity or class. Just mostly who got along with who........Rich kids didn't want to be snobs and poor kids didn't want to be slobs. The Irish, Italians, and Poles all had their fair share of historical grudges but not against each other......The school worked. We all learned how to read and write and get along with each other. I don't know if there's an applicable lesson for public schools, but maybe by making race the end all and be all of class enrollment, the school is reinforcing and not minimizing racial differences.

sane_voter said...

School choice/vouchers would solve this. But then the government would be mostly powerless to manipulate the system to make people mix in their nice little ratios per the census, and we can't have that.

John Lynch said...

I think school choice would make this problem, if it is a problem, worse.

If people move away from "multicultural" neighborhoods, why would they send their children to school in a "multicultural" environment?

One politically correct anecdote doesn't refute piles of statistics showing millions of people doing the opposite.

I'm a cynical person. I look at what people do, not what they say.

Ann Althouse said...

Comments are on moderation now, so they won't appear immediately.

Terry said...

This is not being done for the benefit of the children, it's being done for the benefit of the state.
The parents who can afford to do so (mostly whites) will eventually realize this and pull their kids out of the public schools altogether.

kimsch said...

I've never understood the left's insistence that every smaller group's ratios must mirror the larger group's ratios or somehow it isn't fair or "diverse" enough.

sane_voter said...

If the government wants to balance the schools by race, why not the the teachers as well? And the schools' sports teams? If they are going the quota route, then let's have quotas all the way down.

Richard Dolan said...

Two facts jump out. The first is that the parent expressing doubts about the quotas is Hispanic, a prime member of the supposedly benefitted group. Second, Greenwich CT as well as most of Fairfield County is prime NYC suburbia. The article (at least the portion highlighted on this post) doesn't discuss the reality that, if the parents of the non-minority kids don't like having their son or daughter turned into a sociology 'input', they are quite likely to have the means to opt out of the public schools. Greenwich is a really long way from South Boston in that regard.

I suspect that this experiment in racial balancing might work in Greenwich, where it almost certainly wouldn't in (say) Bridgeport. For it to work, I suspect that the parents at both ends have to share the same goals even if their initial concerns might have different foci -- those like Ms. Ponce whose immediate concern is about an environment that their kids would find nurturing and conducive to success, and for the parents from the other side of town who want a school that is safe and also challenging academically (remember, Yale is just 40 miles down the road and beckons strongly in Greenwich). Those goals are widely shared by most parents, but can only realistically be achieved in a diverse institution if there is enough cultural commonality about social and educational practices to hold it all together.

virgil xenophon said...

The cynical caste-system cultural snobishness that the courts display in these matters is simply appalling. In Louisville circa 1994 the School Board ran out of blacks, so declared the Vietnamese community as "black" for statistical purposes and proposed to bus a larg number of K-8 students miles past their neighborhood school to "re-balance" the other school under an existing 60s consent decree. The Vietnamese community went Able Sugar andsome 1000 strong--to include every Viet physician, Dentist, lawyer, CPA and other professionals and Viet business owners-protested on the steps of School Board steps. Unlike South Boston, where the "southies" protesting forced bussing could easily be labeled as knuckle-dragging blue-collar white racists, this could not be easily done in the case of the Vietnamese--especially regarding its professional class. So the school board appealed to the Federal Judge overseeing the consent decree and the judge, being as cowardly as the School Board in terms of the courage of his "integrationist convictions" saw his intekllectual spine turn to jelly, hiked up his judicial robes and fled the court-room, declaring the Louisville Schools successfully integrated and dissolving the consent decree, rather than have the illogic of the entire edifice exposed for the sham it actually was. The same thing also happened in Baton Rouge a few years later when the Baton Rouge schools ran out of whites. As one black litigator said: "This puts us right back to where we were in 1960, as far as I can see."

As one Supreme court judge once commented: "The essence of democracy is that if the majority are determined to go to hell in a hand-basket, you gotta stand back and let 'em."

n.n said...

Do the adults who prescribe these "well-meaning" policies understand where prejudice originates and what behavior nurtures its development?

Affirmative action was a reactive measure to remedy extraordinary circumstances. By its nature it can not be perpetuated without reinforcing the issues which motivated its realization.

The policy makers need to review their motives and recognize that the issue of merit is individual dignity. That by denying this fundamental principle, they are recreating the circumstances which engendered the outcome they purportedly hope to alleviate. They should focus on economic development, increase supply (e.g. schools, teachers), and provide incentive (material, but principally moral) for accountability.

khesanh0802 said...

What's next.... busing?!? Oh, the frightening specter of Louise Day Hicks in Southie!

khesanh0802 said...

What's next.... busing?!? Oh, the frightening specter of Louise Day Hicks in Southie!

Kirk Parker said...

I'm with whoever it was that said The way to stop focusing on "race" is to stop focusing on "race" [the scare-quotes in this paraphrase are all mine, however.]

Really, people, with the degree of immigration and intermarriage and--above all--international adoption, who can seriously make the case that genetics trumps culture as far as being able to succeed in the world?

Terry said...

Chief Justice Roberts:
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Kirk Parker said...

Terry,

Yeah, that's it, thanks!

Though I'd still add the scare-quotes around 'race' if it were up to me.

stlcdr said...

What are the specific (tangible) benefits that 'diversity' gives us?

When the kids are at school, and the black kids hang with the black kids, white kids hang with the white kids, hispanic kids hang with the hispanic kids...is the adult appetite for diversity satisfied?