Souter's Concurrence

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Justice Souter, concurring....

We recognize that although demographic changes influencing the composition of a school's student population may well have no causal link to prior de jure segregation, judicial control of student assignments may still be necessary to remedy persisting vestiges of the unconstitutional dual system .... This is, however, only one of several possible causal relationships between or among unconstitutional acts of school segregation and various Green-type factors. I think it is worth mentioning at least two others: the dual school system itself as a cause of the demographic shifts with which the district court is faced when considering a partial relinquishment of supervision, and a Green-type factor other than student assignments as a possible cause of imbalanced student-assignment patterns in the future.

The first would occur when demographic change toward segregated residential patterns is itself caused by past school segregation and the patterns of thinking that segregation creates. Such demographic change is not an independent, supervening cause of racial imbalance in the student body, and we have said before that when demographic change is not independent of efforts to segregate, the causal relationship may be considered in fashioning a school-desegregation remedy. Racial imbalance in student assignments caused by demographic change is not insulated from federal judicial oversight where the demographic change is itself caused in this way, and before deciding to relinquish supervision and control over student assignments, a district court should make findings on the presence or absence of this relationship.

The second and related causal relationship would occur after the district court has relinquished supervision over a remedied aspect of the school system, when future imbalance in that remedied Green-type factor (here, student assignments) would be caused by remaining vestiges of the dual system. Even after attaining compliance as to student composition, other factors such as racial composition of the faculty, quality of the physical plant, or per-pupil expenditures may leave schools racially identifiable. (In this very case, for example, there is a correlation in particular schools of overrepresentation of black principals and administrators, lower per-pupil expenditures, and high percentages of black students. Moreover, the schools in the predominantly black southern section of the school district are the only ones that use "portable classrooms,'' i.e., trailers.) If such other factors leave a school identifiable as "black,'' as soon as the district court stops supervising student assignments, nearby white parents may move in the direction of racially identifiable "white'' schools, or may simply move their children into these schools. In such a case, the vestige of discrimination in one factor will act as an incubator for resegregation in others. Before a district court ends its supervision of student assignments, then, it should make a finding that there is no immediate threat of unremedied Green-type factors causing population or student-enrollment changes that in turn may imbalance student composition in this way. And, because the district court retains jurisdiction over the case, it should of course reassert control over student assignments if it finds that this does happen.

Vol. 11, Issue 29, Page 24

Published in Print: April 8, 1992, as Souter's Concurrence
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >