February 16, 2016

"How white is too white?"

Begins a NYT article titled "Program Aims to Keep Schools Diverse as New York Neighborhoods Gentrify." It continues:
At the Academy of Arts and Letters, a small K-8 school in Brooklyn founded in 2006 to educate a community of “diverse individuals,” that question is being put to the test.

The school — along with six others in New York City — is part of a new Education Department initiative aimed at maintaining a racial and socio-economic balance at schools in fast-gentrifying neighborhoods. For the first time the department is allowing a group of principals to set aside a percentage of seats for low-income families, English-language learners or students engaged with the child welfare system as a means of creating greater diversity within their schools.
It's interesting to read this the day after teaching the complicated compendium of writings that appears under the rubric Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. That collection of writings suggests that crudely classifying individuals by race violates the Equal Protection Clause but that government may pursue racial integration (and counter racial isolation) through subtler means. It's rather hard to strain out what can be done as opposed to what can't be done. But, wow, there is one case that would clearly go the other way if Justice Scalia were replaced by a liberal Justice. Straightforward race balancing, taking note of the race of the children in public schools, would be constitutionally permissible.

50 comments:

David Begley said...

Vouchers for the whole system. Privatize NYC schools. Private enterprise couldn't do any worse than the current regime.

Privatization will make NYC high schools almost as good as Lady Gaga's Sacred Heart alma mater.

YoungHegelian said...

They could try busing the white students to other schools to achieve racial balance. That worked so well the first time around...

J. Farmer said...

I recommend to all parents who have the means to homeschool their children. Factory education is little more than warehousing so parents can go out and work. As for the racial question, just more meaningless propaganda from the diversity cult. If anything, students would probably tend to do better in racially segregated educational environments. I was bussed from a predominantly white suburb into a racially balanced urban school for junior high, and it did not unfortunately leave me with high hopes for the black community. My subsequent professional work in the mental health field has only reinforced my pessimism.

damikesc said...

When will anybody show, demonstrably, that these efforts improve any students performance or outcomes?

Ann Althouse said...

@David Begley

The question is not what is the best policy, but what is the range of choice available to the policymakers in a particular locality.

There are those who'd say your idea violates Equal Protection and would put it outside of the range of what is permissible. The question I'm addressing is whether it's constitutionally permissible to do race balancing in public schools at the K-12 level. It's good to know what you can do before you select the policy you will put into practice.

Am I correct to assume that you think that education policy should mostly be controlled by local government and the range of choice should be ample? Or do you think there should be more top-down constriction of the options?

Skeptical Voter said...

Young Hegelian has a point. Way back in the way back --the summer of 1967 to be exact--I was a summer law clerk in Los Angeles. Both the Pasadena school district and the Los Angeles school district started to bus students around the district(s) to achieve racial balance. Pasadena is a relatively small school district---with an interesting racial mix. Pasadena had traditionally been a wealthy white bread sort of place--old money families etc had built very nice large homes. Starting in the 40's and 50's the north side of Pasadena became overwhelmingly black. So the middle and upper class folks had started to take their children out of the Pasadena public school system and either (A) put them in private schools or (B) move out of Pasadena altogether.

So in 1967, you could buy a pretty nice house on the "white side" of Pasadena for not much money. And with the advent of forced bussing to integrate (now the politically correct term is "diversify") public schools, I idly sat and mused as to what would happen if there were not enough white students to go around. Would you make the last dozen or so white students in the school system commute between several schools a day?

It did get bad in the LA school system thereafter; some students were being bussed 90 minutes each way to school. It's a very large school system spread over a great geographic area. They learned a lot about bus riding; not so much about after school activities, school sports teams etc.

Jim said...

This is a question only a Democrat would ask. The GOP welcomes minorities but without the implied quid pro quo of special privileges based on race.

PB said...

How white is not-black?

Give parents a voucher for the full per-student funding and let them choose a school. if existing unionized teachers think they can do best, let them start a school.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Straightforward race balancing, taking note of the race of the children in public schools, would be constitutionally permissible.

At least it would be honest. Now we have the same situation but everyone must pretend there are no quotas.

This refusal to accept reality has a very corrosive effect on the public. It reminds me of the old Soviet regime where everyone had to parrot a known lie.

Roughcoat said...

I guess these discussions are necessary but I don't know what good they'll do. I went to a mixed race public high school located in an inner city neighborhood (Chicago area) and it was, to say the least, a frequently difficult experience. At times--many times--it could be a brutalizing experience. Coming to school and going home at the end of the day could be an adventure, and not the good kind of adventure. Heck, even going to class had its thrills. Am I speaking too euphemistically here or are you all getting what I'm saying? In the circumstances the question of "how white is too white" was moot. It didn't kill me and I supoose it actually did make me stronger, in certain ways, but I wouldn't want to have go through that all again. Because, like pharaoh, my heart was hardened to many aspects of the human condition.

tim maguire said...

The constitution means whatever the sitting justices say it means. No more, no less.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

David Begley said...

AA

Local control. Top down oftentimes translates into poor results for high costs. In Omaha, the cost to the public for K-12 is double the cost of private and the results are not nearly as good. The number of non-teachers at OPS is out of sight. The Jesuit Academy in north Omaha is 100% black and every single student finishes high school and then goes to college, trade school or the military.

Sebastian said...

"It's good to know what you can do before you select the policy you will put into practice." It is good, it would be good, and under actual rule of law, we might even know for real. But of course: "Straightforward race balancing, taking note of the race of the children in public schools, would be constitutionally permissible." So it just depends on what our overlords happen to decide -- on whether Tony's "unique sensibilities" are offended, or whether Progs get heir fifth vote.

Fernandinande said...

damikesc said...
When will anybody show, demonstrably, that these efforts improve any students performance or outcomes?


The NYT article didn't include the strings "perform" or "outcome", so apparently that's not their concern.

Coleman's federally funded analysis, titled Equality of Educational Opportunity, concluded, first, that racial integration did little to boost academic achievement in urban schools. "Our interpretation of the data," Coleman wrote, "is that racial integration per se is unrelated to achievement insofar as the data can show a relationship." Coleman added, however, that compensatory education-whether offered in racially integrated or in racially segregated schools-was similarly unlikely to improve achievement levels. As Coleman explained, "differences in school facilities and curricula, which are made to improve schools, are so little related to differences in achievement levels of students that, with few exceptions, their efforts [or the effects of different classes or curricula] fail to appear in a survey of this magnitude."


Eighty-year-old black teacher Ruby Forsythe, gives some perspective on the question in 'Black Teachers on Teaching':
"When the children were integrated into white schools, they lost something. Integration has helped in some ways, but it has hurt our black children in some ways. Now, instead of seeing black children winning prizes for their achievements, you see them all in special eduaction classes. This has caused them to lose their pride, their self-esteem. They have been pushed back, as far as leadership is concerned. Instead of being taught to lead, they are being taught to follow."

Levi Starks said...

Can they do it?
That's an absurd question. Of course. They can do anything they please.
As long as the end objective is a utopian society nothing is off limits.
I recommend a program where we not only pay for, but also subsidize women to have selective abortions if the child they're carrying will not enhance the racial/gender balance of the schools in which they live. And for women seeking pregnancy through artificial means we will STRONGLY encourage them to make wise racial choices.

Fernandinande said...

Roughcoat said...
I went to a mixed race public high school located in an inner city neighborhood (Chicago area) and it was, to say the least, a frequently difficult experience. At times--many times--it could be a brutalizing experience.


The NYT sez you "may" have benefited from the brutalizing experience: "Numerous other studies suggest that middle-class students do not see a decrease in achievement when they go to school with poorer students, and may in fact benefit in nonacademic ways through their exposure to students who are not like them."


“You stupid Chinese bitch, I’m going to kick your ass!”
The threats and assaults "may" have been beneficial.

Alexander said...

I think the NBA should be the gold standard here.

In absolute terms, A group that is 75% of one race should be lauded as diverse, that's one metric.

Likewise, a group that is over-represented by about 500% should also be seen as a perfectly permissible model.

When whites make up around 300% of a given group, then I will get on board the 'unfair discrimination' train. I'll even hashtag about it our disrupt brunches (but not if those brunches are only 100% white - that's well below the established anti-diversity threshold.)

Roughcoat said...

Frenandinande:

Among the most important life lessons the experience imparted: 1) don't show fear, even if you are afraid; 2) learn when to back down and when to fight back; 3) understand that it is not dishonorable to back down when your adversaries are brandishing; 4) try not to let the desire to get even dominate your thinking.

Also, I learned some good academic stuff. It was useful too.

Roughcoat said...

"brandishing weapons"

Dan Hossley said...

If there is one thing that we should have learned over the last 7 years, it is that government bureaucrats are mostly corrupt or incompetent. Give them billions of dollars and 4 years and they can't launch a website, something that is done in the private sector every day.

Give them billions of dollars and decades and they can't provide veterans health benefits properly.

Give them billions of dollars and decades and they will use their authority to target groups that oppose their benefactors.

They seem to have a problem with backing up email servers.

How on earth can we believe that these morons (as a class) are capable of social engineering?

At some point, don't the courts have to realize that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that is the only shovel ready job bureaucrats are prepared to do.

n.n said...

Prejudice rears its ugly head with resumption of class diversity policies.

subsidize women to have selective abortions

That's one way they can marginalize and disenfranchise individuals.

Of course, there is also the clinical cannibalism (Planned Parenthood et al) motive. You can have your baby and recycle it, too. For profit, if that matters.

Genocide takes on a different character with selective child policy under the State-established pro-choice doctrine.

I imagine the dodo dynasty was also led by an army of volunteers.

buwaya said...

"The question is not what is the best policy, but what is the range of choice available to the policymakers in a particular locality."

The range of policy choices is constrained by power relations, not the law. The law is mutable.
If the powers that be require a given policy choice the law will fairly quickly get out of the way.
You can have local control if local control is permitted, large School Districts mainly under state and federal control if so mandated, etc. What the people (local inhabitants) want in either case is mostly irrelevant.

glenn said...

I would actually like to see all this stuff go intra district. Can't wait to see some smug lefty in Palo Alto put Snowflake on a bus to Hayward or even better West Oakland.

Bay Area Guy said...

"Diversity" is mostly bullshit. The Left wants ethnic diversity - with uniformity of left-wing thought. But the latter trumps the former - nobody celebrated the wonderful "diversity" Clarence Thomas brought to the Supreme Court or Sarah Palin brought to the 2008 Presidential campaign.

So, here's what all this diversity mumbo-jumbo did for Oakland, CA the past 40 years:

1. The whites fled over the hill to Walnut Creek, Lafayette, & Orinda. The public schools there are excellent. The housing prices begin at 7 figures.
2. The whites/blacks who couldn't move, started sending their kids to Catholic Schools on scholarship. These private schools are excellent, and very diverse. Almost all the kids there go to college.
3. The remaining public schools in Oakland are all black/Hispanic. The graduation rate is 50%. They're pretty horrible places of learning.

Thank you Liberals!

buwaya said...

"Can't wait to see some smug lefty in Palo Alto put Snowflake on a bus to Hayward or even better West Oakland"

Thats a LOONG bus ride.
Something very much like this happened in San Francisco, 1969-76.
My wife was a victim of this system, being bused to Hunters Point.
No, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

buwaya said...

Also note the point about the powers that be.
My wife was a machinists daughter, the SF busing business hit her sort of family (her dad was Mexican actually), not anyone who mattered.
Palo Alto is untouchable.

Anglelyne said...

Dan Hossley: How on earth can we believe that these morons (as a class) are capable of social engineering?

Um, "we" never believed that these morons are capable of constructive social engineering. (Destructive, yes, of course.)

Yet, here we are. Not only are there more of them, and ever more meddlesome, decades after "busing" failed to accomplish anything, but they insist on trying the same stuff over and over again, as if they collectively have one of those memory disorders that make one forget anything that happened more than ten minutes ago.

Yet, here we are. Ever larger social engineering bureaucracies and well-funded "non-profits" (well-funded, involuntarily, by "us"), with ever-crazier and more ignorant staffs of cat-ladies and grievance hustlers.

Here we are. How'd we get here? I dunno, but by this time I'm pretty sure that the infestation isn't going to be removed by complaining about them and calling for vouchers.

buwaya said...

"The remaining public schools in Oakland are all black/Hispanic."

No, the recent enrollment stats in Oakland (last 10 years) are interesting.
Black % is falling - from @35% to @25%, Asian % is static at @12-13%, Hispanic up from 35 to 44%,

And here is the surprise - White up from 6% to 10%

The rather sudden increase in White enrollment began in the 2008-2009 schoolyear.
I suspect economic factors driving kids out of private schools.

Roughcoat said...

Some of you here are old enough to remember the Boston school busing circus of the mid-1970s. Irish kids from Southie getting forcibly bused to majority black schools, and black kids getting forcibly bused to majority white Southie schools: hijinks and hilarity ensued. The media assiduously documented the experience of the black kids in the white schools, showing them being subjected to various forms and degrees of racist harassment and violence on a daily basis; but they pretty much neglected to show the experience of the white kids in the black school, who were likewise being subjected to various forms and degrees of racist harassment and violence on a daily basis.

n.n said...

Anglelyne:

How'd we get here?

Dual-use policies. The left was routed by Americans who led civil rights reform. Their response was to adopt and exploit the strategy, if not actually the intent, in order to secure capital and reestablish democratic leverage.

Americans, for their part, were complacent, and were themselves challenged by the classical progressives, who while maintaining class prejudice, did appreciate and reconcile individual dignity, intrinsic value, and natural imperatives.

Principles matter. However, they can be safely overridden with sufficient leverage.

buwaya said...

"Some of you here are old enough to remember the Boston school busing circus of the mid-1970s."

The same thing happened elsewhere before the Boston experiment. San Francisco did the same in 1968-69 with less national publicity. But similar incidents, etc.

Peter said...

What parents really care about is the content of other students' characters, and not so much about visible differences.

The root-cause problem remains significant correlations between visible difference and undesired behaviors. IF parents could select for the behaviors they prefer I don't doubt they'd do so, but, selecting for visible difference is so much easier that it's likely to persist so long as any significant correlations persist.

Perhaps solutions which addressed the root causes would be more successful, but quotas also remain relatively easy to implement and thus they, too, are likely to persist?

David said...

"Straightforward race balancing, taking note of the race of the children in public schools, would be constitutionally permissible."

Once again delaying the actually necessity--a revolutionary revamping of underperforming schools, starting with increased accountability for everyone, vastly increased disciplinary powers which would include expulsion of disruptive students to different schools designed for their ilk, better salaries for teachers with greatly reduced protection from dismissal, a first class traditional curriculum and much higher expectations. (Sort of like the elite private schools the rich lefties use to avoid the whole mess.)

Bay Area Guy said...

@buwaya

Yes, that's a recent counter-trend, in response to what I wrote above.

Because of the social-engineering, the mostly white neighborhoods (Walnut Creek, Berkeley Hills and SF) have seen property values shoot through the roof. This has lead blacks to flee SF, and hippie middle class whites to move in to Oakland, causing Oak blacks to flee there as well.

As I write this, I'm in a the jury waiting room in Downtown Oak among 100 or so prospective jurors. There's only 5-6 blacks that I can see.

Thanks, Liberals!

Real American said...

the truly amazing thing is that leftists are never called out on being the inveterate racists that they are.

buwaya said...

"a revolutionary revamping of underperforming schools, starting with increased accountability for everyone, vastly increased disciplinary powers which would include expulsion of disruptive students to different schools designed for their ilk, better salaries for teachers with greatly reduced protection from dismissal, a first class traditional curriculum and much higher expectations. (Sort of like the elite private schools the rich lefties use to avoid the whole mess.)"

The problem with the above is that all of this has been tried in one way or another (the number of experiments is truly enormous) over the last 70 years with no significant effect on the overall numbers. The best hope I have seen, having followed the literature on this for the last 20 years, is that of "rescuing" a proportion of the at risk population by picking them out and selectively assigning them to more demanding schools. This is a very modest goal, but the nature of the problem seems to be that only modest outcomes can be expected.

chuck said...

Race this, race that. I see fifty shades of white in our future.

Bay Area Guy said...

I would abolish all affirmative affirmative and racial/sex/gay preferences for every "oppressed" group.

In exchange, I would have a "soft" affirmative action based on income.

Char Char Binks said...

What's a diverse individual?

Brando said...

What'll undermine most of this "diversity" crap is the growing sense among racialists that integration is no longer the goal, but retribution, and that means separation and redistribution. The new racialists will want all-black schools, but for them to be better funded than the white schools, to get things even.

Those of us who suggest anything as naïve as "ignore race and consider people based on their other attributes" are now out of the "conversation".

buwaya said...

"The new racialists will want all-black schools"
This is not the current direction of policy.
In California most school districts are working off various court orders and settlements requiring some sort of integration goals.
Its interesting how this works. The courts often order things that the "customers" of the system, parents in this case, are mainly opposed to. The courts do reflect the opinions of the powers that be. In SF for instance the political powers trump the "customers".

AlbertAnonymous said...

Again I would recommend, as required reading, Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion in Fisher 1. Love when he starts talking about how the UT's arguments in favor of "racial diversity" are some of the same arguments the Court rejected when made by the segregationists (Part II.A.2). Compelling stuff.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2012/11-345


I also love the directness and brevity of the late Justice Scalia's concurring opinion:

"I adhere to the view I expressed in Grutter v. Bollinger: “The Constitution proscribes government discrimination on the basis of race, and state-provided education is no exception.” 539 U. S. 306, 349 (2003) (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part). The petitioner in this case did not ask us to overrule Grutter’s holding that a “compelling interest” in the educational benefits of diversity can justify racial preferences in university admissions. Tr. of Oral Arg. 8–9. I therefore join the Court’s opinion in full."

AlbertAnonymous said...

A great quote from Thomas:


"While I find the theory advanced by the University to justify racial discrimination facially inadequate, I also believe that its use of race has little to do with the alleged educational benefits of diversity. I suspect that the University’s program is instead based on the benighted notion that it is possible to tell when discrimination helps, rather than hurts, racial minorities. [Cites Omitted]. The worst forms of racial discrimination in this Nation have always been accompanied by straight-faced representations that discrimination helped minorities.

Amen.

cyrus83 said...

If the problem is gentrification of neighborhoods, the relevant question to ask is why neighborhoods are gentrifying. It seems apparent that apart from rent-controlled apartments or government housing, it's impossible for low-income people to live in these neighborhoods because demand for the housing outstrips the supply, and when that happens, people with money will win out every time because they can bid up the cost of a scarce resource.

The best way to "defeat" the problem of gentrification is to encourage a significant expansion of the total housing supply - admittedly not easy to do in a built-out place like New York City, but it is the only organic way to accomplish the task without the government trying to force the issue - either by forcing the existence of rent-controlled units, busing kids around to achieve balance, or plopping low-income housing in the middle of rich neighborhoods.

But the problem policy makers won't touch is that while statistical diversity of a sort can be achieved on paper, nothing says that groups artificially brought together will ever actually be accepting of one another. The pattern throughout human history is that people tend to bunch together in similar groups. Race is one such grouping, but there are also others - social status, economic status, language spoken, religion, common interest (think artists or musicians for example), politics, family/tribal groupings, profession, common employer, former homeland (think Irish/Italian/Polish communities in the US). Putting people together for sake of a statistical calculation without actually bothering to pay any heed to making sure there's an actual common ground to build community from seems destined to perform poorly in general (anecdotal exceptions will exist even if the plan doesn't do well in general).

Owen said...

All the handwringing about AA is because commenters are smart and want to Solve it. But it's hopelessly messy and fraught. It's a hopeless trap for policy wonks and lawmakers.

My current idea is one word: lottery.

No more armies of bureaucrats deciding who can go where, and jurists and academics straining to show why or why not.

Give every kid a number. Spin the wheel. If a lottery is good enough to raise the funds needed for school, it's good enough to allocate kids to the schools it funds.

For added interest, give every 50th lottery pick a voucher good for a full ride at St. Grottlesex.

buwaya said...

"My current idea is one word: lottery'

This was tried in San Francisco.
Its not that unusual in US school districts.
Some schools are desirable others aren't. So there are various sorts of random assignment systems.
No, it solves nothing.

buwaya said...

I don't think there's much that hasn't been tried.
Short of trial by combat.
Many parents are up for that.

Douglas said...

I suppose if Obama gets his nominee and the Court blesses racial counting in the schools, and the schools go full speed ahead with racial integration across district lines, that will spell the end of the public schools in this country, because middle class parents of any race will not accept having their kids dumped into the crappy and dangerous schools that the parents worked so hard and spent so much money to get away from.

cubanbob said...

Public schools came into being as a result of the Blaine laws. There is no fundamental reason for public schools to exist. Either eliminate schools taxes or give them as vouchers, preferably the funds follow the student.

damikesc said...

What'll undermine most of this "diversity" crap is the growing sense among racialists that integration is no longer the goal, but retribution, and that means separation and redistribution. The new racialists will want all-black schools, but for them to be better funded than the white schools, to get things even.

To paraphrase Jon Gabriel, what I like most about the Obama term is all of the racial healing.