Researchers Cite Evidence for Race-Conscious Policies

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Following yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on race-conscious policies for assigning students to K-12 schools, a distinguished group of education scholars has issued a report in support of the type of policies the high court struck down.

The new report Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, released today, was based on a review of decades of research on racial diversity and its effects in the classroom and beyond. It comes from the National Academy of Education, an invitation-only group based in Washington that is made up of more than 100 of the profession’s most elite academics.

“The research evidence provides general support for the conclusion that the overall academic and social effects of increased racial diversity are likely to be positive,” the researchers write.

“Because race-neutral alternatives—such as school-choice assignments and assignments based on limited socioeconomic status—are quite limited in their ability to increase racial diversity,” the report continues, “it seems reasonable to conclude that race-conscious policies for assigning students to schools are the most effective means of achieving racial diversity in schools and its attendant positive outcomes.”

Friend of the Court

The academy is the second major education research group to lend its weight in support of schools’ efforts to promote or maintain desegregated learning environments for students, in the context of the just-concluded Supreme Court cases involving student-assignment plans in the Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., school districts.

Last October, the American Educational Research Association, a Washington-based group whose 25,000-plus members represent the full spectrum of the profession, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the districts involved in yesterday’s Supreme Court decisionRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Lorrie A. Shepard, the president of the National Academy of Education and the dean of the education school at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the six researchers who conducted the NAE review evaluated studies both in support of, and in opposition to, race-based school-assignment policies.

“While debate in the case has at times been emotionally charged and driven by deeply seated attitudes of segregation and desegregation, the academy focused solely the available research,” which was abundant, Ms. Shepard said in a press release accompanying the report.

Vol. 26

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