Federal

Decision Sparks Divided Reactions

By David J. Hoff — June 28, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School officials and traditional civil rights groups decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today overturning policies intended to diversify student enrollments in the Jefferson County, Ky., and Seattle school districts. Meanwhile, others hailed the decision as a victory for those who say such initiatives create reverse discrimination.

One of Washington’s most powerful Democrats called the decision “appalling.” “Today’s decision turns Brown [v. Board of Education] upside down and ignores decades of constitutional history,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement, referring to the 1954 decision that overturned segregation in public schools. “If this isn’t judicial activism, I don’t know what is.”

People for the American Way, a liberal activist group, called the decision “a terrible blow for school districts trying to overcome our nation’s long legacy of segregation and take seriously the importance of diversity.”

The other side of the political spectrum celebrated. “Racist School Policies Get the Supreme Smackdown,” wrote the Open Market blog, a project of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which advocates free markets.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, also approved of the decision. “That public institutions cannot be allowed to sort children based on race is consistent with the [U.S.] Constitution, was clearly established in Brown v. Board, and simply makes sense as a matter of justice. And it is good to see the court doing what it should in education, especially after so many years in which it and other federal courts required exactly the kind of racial engineering it prohibited today.”

One supporter of measures to promote integration suggested that the court should not have “the last word” on the questions posed in the case. “Congress must act immediately to explore legislative solutions that further the goals of an integrated and quality public education for all students,” wrote Cassandra Butts, the senior vice president for domestic policy at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning think tank.

See Also

Read the related story,

The Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, a coalition of groups that support efforts to diversify schools and other public institutions, said students recognize the importance of diversity and believe districts should be allowed to promote it. The campaign highlighted the winner of its recent essay contest, Jody Leung, who wrote: “Brown v. Board of Education paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement” and “made America a better place. … The time is now and we must encourage racial integration in classrooms.”

Shades of Gray

On the well-respected Scotusblog, lawyer Tom Goldstein points out that Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s concurring opinion may have preserved K-12 districts’ right to consider race in some school assignments. Justice Kennedy joined with four justices to form a majority saying that Seattle and Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, put too much emphasis on race in their school assignments. But the justice’s reasoning, Mr. Goldstein wrote, suggests that “that school districts may account for race as one factor among many in student placement.”

In its blog, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund highlights the factors that Justice Kennedy lists as possible ways districts could consider race in student assignments: “Such measures may include strategic site selection of new schools; drawing attendance zones with general recognition of neighborhood demographics; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and other statistics by race.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona in the Hot Seat: 4 Takeaways From a Contentious House Hearing
FAFSA, rising antisemitism, and Title IX dominated questioning at a U.S. House hearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill on May 7 in Washington.
Mariam Zuhaib/AP
Federal Arming Teachers Could Cause 'Accidents and More Tragedy,' Miguel Cardona Says
"This is not in my opinion a smart option,” the education secretary said at an EdWeek event.
4 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal Opinion Should Migrant Families Pay Tuition for Public School?
The answer must reflect an outlook that is pro-immigration, pro-compassion, and pro-law and order, writes Michael J. Petrilli.
Michael J. Petrilli
4 min read
Image of a pencil holder filled with a variety of colored pencils that match the background with international flags.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
Federal New Title IX Rule Could Actually Simplify Some Things for Districts, Lawyers Say
School districts could field more harassment complaints, but they can streamline how they handle them, according to legal experts.
7 min read
Illustration of checklist.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus