A stream of briefs last week urged the U.S. Supreme Court to back the Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., school districts in their legal fight to retain the ability to consider race in assigning students to public schools, including one signed by three former U.S. secretaries of education.
“The federal government’s long-standing policy of promoting diversity in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools … reflects nearly five decades of careful and deliberate consideration of the negative effects on children of racial isolation,” says the friend-of-the-court brief on the side of the school districts signed by former Secretaries Shirley M. Hufstedler, who served under President Carter; Lauro F. Cavazos, who served under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush; and Richard W. Riley, who served under President Clinton.
The high court’s deadline for briefs from the school districts and their allies was Oct. 10. Among the other filers were the Council of the Great City Schools, the National School Boards Association, the Public Education Network, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Briefs favoring the parents who are challenging the school assignment plans were filed by Aug. 21 in the two cases, Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (Case No. 05-915)and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (Case No. 05-908).
The cases will be argued Dec. 4.
A version of this article appeared in the October 18, 2006 edition of Education Week