To the Editor:
As school boards and superintendents decide about tweaking student assignments for the fall, they will have to decide how much weight to give to the Obama administration’s “Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools,” which was released jointly late last year by the U.S. Education and Justice departments. The guidance encourages school districts to make student-assignment decisions with an eye on race to ensure more student-body “diversity.”
In my organization’s view, school districts would be well-advised to ignore this 12-page document, since it is bad policy—and will only get them into legal trouble by courting lawsuits. The Center for Equal Opportunity—where I work—explains why in a critique I wrote that was posted on National Review Online in May.
Deciding where children should go to school based on their skin color and national origin is inherently divisive and puts political correctness ahead of quality education. And starting with Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the use of race and ethnicity by schools is highly disfavored; what’s more, the high court is likely to issue another decision limiting race-based decisionmaking for the sake of “diversity” next term, when it will decide Fisher v. University of Texas.
Bottom line: School districts should ignore skin color and national origin in deciding which students should go to which schools. Period.
President and General Counsel
Center for Equal Opportunity
Falls Church, Va.
A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Center: Ignore Race in Student Assignments