State and municipal officials have won a key victory in their attempt to overturn a federal court order requiring costly and far-reaching educational changes in Yonkers, N.Y., aimed at raising achievement among black and Hispanic students.
A federal appeals panel ruled late last month that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the city school district had failed to prove that racial disparities in test scores stemmed from past segregation.
The June 22 ruling in U.S. v. Yonkers Board of Education increases the likelihood that the state and the city of Yonkers will avoid having to comply with lower-court rulings in 1997 and 1998 requiring them to pay for school initiatives costing a projected $560 million over nine years, not including sizable related capital costs.
NAACP Argument Rejected
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, based in New York City, did not buy the lower court’s conclusion that the programs were needed to remedy the lingering effects of deliberate racial segregation, which the schools were originally ordered to correct in 1985.
The NAACP, backed by school officials, had argued that because of past segregation, teachers expected less from minority students and were unresponsive to their cultural differences.
Suggesting that the achievement gap might stem from any number of other factors, including racism in society at large, the appeals panel threw out the remedial order as unwarranted.
A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 1999 edition of Education Week as Effort To Overturn Costly Yonkers Ruling Advances