Monday, December 04, 2006

race and schools

The Supreme Court will be looking at race and schools again this week. At issue is when and if it is okay to assign public school children to different schools based on their race, in order to artificially desegregate the school systems.

I think the issue is much much larger than making schools racially diverse. My son used to attend a lovely private school that was almost a 50/50 split racially. It was in no way diverse. All the kids came from upper middle class homes where the parents could afford tuition and felt it was worth spending the money on their child's education. They wore the same clothes, had the same toys, went on similar vacations, lived in similar homes, etc.

It seems to me that what the school systems are doing is a good first attempt, with good intent. But in looking solely at race, they ignore real diversity and real issues. Why isn't their community naturally diverse? Is there opportunity for the children to make friendships across economic lines, religious lines, cultural lines, not just racial ones?
Are all the schools in their system equally good? do they all have the same quality equipment, the same quality teachers, the same opportunities for all students?
Is there a range of housing opportunities in the same community and school district? Is there room in their district for all kinds of differences?

Fixing schools by artificially desegregating is like a bandaid. What we really need to do is fix ourselves, and our communities. The schools will improve when we improve.

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