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Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
Subj: School Desegregation
Date: 11/29/2001 12:59:40 PM Central Standard Time
In a message dated 11/28/2001 5:06:40 PM Central Standard Time, [M Atherton] writes:
> I don't agree with Mr. Mann on this point. I don't believe that desegregation has helped improve the quality of education (although it might have minimally improved it for Black students, but the gap will never be completely eliminated solely by integration). Generally, it has just promoted a demographic shift out of urban areas to the suburbs... [snip]
There is credible evidence that the desegregation of racially segregated school districts helped to improve the quality of education for nearly all students. For example, after the Norfolk, VA schools were integrated, scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills increased by nearly 20 points for white students, and by more than 20 points for black students. The achievement gap between black and white students began to increase after the Norfolk public schools were resegregated in the late 1980s. (Source: Christina Meldrum and Susan E. Eaton, "Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia: Does Restoring Neighborhood Schools Work?" Harvard Project on School Desegregation, May 1994.)
About white flight. The hypothesis that desegregation caused white flight to the suburbs
was used by the Minneapolis Public Schools to support its community schools plan. It is probable that some whites moved to the suburbs to minimize the amount of contact their children would have with blacks, but not all. Some white parents prefer to have their children attend schools with black children, but are highly dissatisfied with the quality of education their children receive in the Minneapolis Public Schools.
It is also likely that white flight would have happened without school desegregation. The proportion of nonwhite students attending the Minneapolis Public Schools was increasing before the schools were desegregated in the early 1970s and continued to increase after the community school plan was implemented in 1996.
Black people also began to move to the suburbs to escape the public school system in Minneapolis in the early 1970s. However, blacks have been competing with whites for housing in the suburban housing market, and much of the available housing is simply not available to black people.
>...I believe that forced integration has failed as a social experiment. I think we need to move on and focus on insuring a quality education for all students regardless of race and geographic location. I think that Minneapolis WAS going in the right direction with it's emphasis on community schools, and I still believe that there are ways that it can be done economically (if one thinks outside of the box). [snip]
The State Board of Education allowed the Minneapolis Public Schools to implement the Community School Plan on the basis of promises to minimize the segregative effect of the Community School Plan, and a pledge by the Mayor of Minneapolis to desegregate the neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Neither the Mayor nor the School Board kept their promises.
The doctrine of 'separate but equal,' i.e., that separate accommodations are OK as long as they are equal, is currently the legal basis for racially segregated schools in Minneapolis. "iii. In the desegregation context, 'equal educational opportunity' is often defined in terms of whether educational resources are equitably distributed and accessible without regard to race (Statement of Need and Reasonableness in the Matter of the Proposed Rules relating to Desegregation: Minnesota Rules, Chapter 3535, November 1998, page 43-44)."
However, no where and at no time has a policy of racial separation ever been accompanied by 'equal accommodations.' In racially segregated school systems, there have always been huge disparities in the allocation of educational resources between black and white schools. John Marshall Harlan, the lone dissenting US Supreme Court Justice in the 1896 Plessy decision, which sanctioned separate public accommodations for blacks and whites, said "The thin disguise of 'equal' accommodations...will not mislead anyone, nor atone for the wrong done this day." (Orfield, Gary and Eaton, Susan; 1996; Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown v. Board of Education, page 28)
-Doug Mann, King Field