Law & Courts

Diversity on the Docket

By Andrew Trotter — October 03, 2006 1 min read
Louisville, KY.: Teacher Carlotta Ingram welcomes kindergarten students last month to John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School, which, like other schools in the Jefferson County district follows a policy that considers race in assigning students. The U.S. Supreme Court will review the district's policy during the term that begins this week.

School leaders attest to educational and social benefits from such diversity. They argue that local housing patterns historically tend to separate families of different races and may lead to schools that are racially homogeneous if the districts do not counter them with assignment policies that consider race.

Diversity on the Docket
Introduction
Kentucky: No Shades of Gray
Seattle: Target Demographics

But in two appeals to the high court, families in Jefferson County, Ky., and Seattle argue that such race-conscious plans have unconstitutionally denied their children the equal protection of the law.

The high court’s decisions in the cases could have a dramatic impact across the country, potentially affecting student-assignment plans in hundreds of districts, legal observers say.

The rulings would also be the first time that the court has addressed race in education since a pair of landmark 2003 decisions upholding the use of race in higher education admissions. Since then, the makeup of the court has changed, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito III joining during the last term.

The Bush administration is supporting the families’ appeals of lower-court decisions that upheld the race-conscious policies in Jefferson County and Seattle. The administration argues that the student-assignment plans were not “narrowly tailored,” and did not further “a compelling government interest.” Those are requirements for constitutionality that the Supreme Court has established for all government classifications based on race.

But the administration stops short of calling for the justices to overrule the core principle expressed three years ago in the University of Michigan cases—that race can be a factor in admissions when considered as part of an individualized review of an applicant.

The school districts argue that their plans, in the specifics, use race in ways that are narrowly tailored, and that maintaining racial diversity furthers important educational goals.

The cases, Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (Case No. 05-915) and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District (No. 05-908), have not yet been set for oral arguments, but those are likely to come later this fall.

Coverage of district-level improvement efforts is underwritten in part by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the October 04, 2006 edition of Education Week as Diversity on the Docket

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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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

Law & Courts California COVID-19 Closures Infringed Private School Parents' Rights, Federal Court Rules
A federal appeals court holds that the state's closure rules for private schools were not narrowly tailored to serve compelling interests.
4 min read
Image shows a courtroom and gavel.
imaginima/E+
Law & Courts 'I Just Want to Play.' Judge Halts W. Va. Law Barring Transgender Girls From Girls' Sports
Ruling for an 11-year-old transgender girl, the judge holds that the law likely violates the equal-protection clause and Title IX.
3 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+
Law & Courts Praying Coach v. District That Suspended Him: What's Next in Fight Over Religious Expression
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit declined to reconsider an earlier panel ruling that sided with the school district.
4 min read
Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy, center in blue, kneels and prays after his team lost to Centralia in Bremerton, Wash., on Oct. 16, 2015. Kennedy, who was suspended for praying at midfield after games, has filed a discrimination complaint on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission according to The Liberty Institute, a Texas-based law firm representing the coach.
Joe Kennedy, center in blue, kneels and prays after a game in October 2015 when he was the assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Wash. In a long-running legal fight, Kennedy contends he has First Amendment free-speech and free-exercise-of-religion rights to express his Christian faith while on the job. The case is likely headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lindsey Wasso/The Seattle Times via AP
Law & Courts Appeals Court Again Backs Transgender Student, But on Narrower Grounds Amid Signs of Rift
A federal appeals panel removed a holding for student Drew Adams based on Title IX, perhaps to ward off a rehearing by the full court.
4 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+