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A Bogus Threat to “Desegregation”

There was a big front-page story in the Washington Post this week about a bill before the Kentucky state legislature that will, the headlines claim, “threaten” school “desegregation” in Louisville.  Hardly. 

My favorite sentence in the story:  “The threat is no longer from protestors in hoods throwing bricks at buses carrying black children into white parts of town, but from state legislators pushing a bill to return to neighborhood schools.”  Nothing but straight news reporting here, folks!  Nothing slanted or tendentious, nosiree!

Look:  There is no segregation in Louisville or anywhere else in the country, and there is no threat of it coming back.  There is not a single segregated public school in the United States, because segregation means separating children by law because of race, and everyone knows that is illegal and wrong.

What exists are racial imbalances in public schools, and those imbalances exist because of residential living patterns.  Some people, mostly liberals of course, want to end those racial imbalances by using race to assign students to schools.  The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that Louisville’s system of using a student’s race directly was unconstitutional, so now the school district weighs race more obliquely — but alas it is still being used, as even the Post has to acknowledge in its story.  The Post also has to acknowledge that the bill’s proponents cite simply the undeniable educational, parental, and monetary benefits of letting children attend the schools closest to them.  

What the state bill here would do, then, is require a policy of neighborhood schools, not a return to segregation. So it’s the bill proponents who want to end the practice of using race to decide where children can go to school.  And it’s the proponents of “desegregation” who insist that skin color should decide what a child’s educational choices should be. 

P.S.  The Post’s home-page headline for this story is even worse than the hard-copy’s:  “School desegregation in Kentucky survived the KKK. Now a GOP bill threatens to shatter it.

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Good Bill in Utah – There’s a good bill pending in Utah, too, by the way.  As discussed here, it would end the practice of weighing a prospective judge’s race and sex when being considered by the state’s judicial nominating commissions. 

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No Deal on Reparations – I responded over the weekend to this column in the New York Times by Ross Douthat, whom I usually like, but who was proposing there that a grand bargain be struck whereby racial preferences (in university admissions and the like) are ended, in exchange for a one-time reparations payment of $10,000 for all African Americans.  Charles Krauthammer, whom I also usually like, made a similar,and similarly misguided,  proposal many years ago.
There are a many, many problems with reparations — logistical and constitutional, as well as policy — which I discussed in Congressional testimony here.

In my response to Mr. Douthat I added these points to what his column says specifically:

(a) What's the evidence that "the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow" is the problem for the "black underclass" rather than other, cultural factors, especially the fact that more than 7 out of 10 African Americans (probably 8 out of 10 or more in the underclass) are born out of wedlock?;

(b) Why in the world would you think that the Left won't return again and again and again after you make that supposedly "one time only" payment of $10,000?;

(c) How are you going to answer similar claims by Latinos, say, and American Indians, and then Asian Americans, and then Arab Americans, and then ...?; and

(d) If you have children of several different races (including white) in front of you, all of whom face some sort of privation, why does it matter if one of them can make a vague claim that the privation can be traced somehow to a unique historical wrong and, therefore, the government should care more about him than the others — especially if it turns out that child is not actually disadvantaged at all relative to the others? 

Finally, I noted that to think such a program will improve race relations is just crazy.

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“UT Not Fair” --  An organization called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) last week launched a new website, The “UT” is the University of Texas at Austin; the organization, a brainchild of Edward Blum, is the same one that is suing Harvard and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill for their use of racial preferences; and the website’s aim is to encourage students who were recently rejected by UT–Austin to “share their stories” with SFFA. And some of those stories, it is hoped, will result in another, similar lawsuit against the University of Texas.

This is the time of year when some students will start getting those dreaded thin envelopes — that is, rejection letters — from universities. And Cory Liu, who recently joined SFFA as the new volunteer executive director, notes:
Even though many Asian students grow up like myself — as the children of immigrants speaking a language other than English at home — Asian students are denied an equal opportunity for higher education because of UT’s racially discriminatory admissions process. It isn’t right, and it isn’t lawful. Our Constitution guarantees every American equality under the law, regardless of their race.

But, you say, didn’t the University of Texas just win a lawsuit against another plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, who also had Mr. Blum’s backing? Yes, but that was based on an admissions system nearly a decade old, and the Supreme Court has warned that schools are obliged to reevaluate and update their discriminatory systems frequently, to show that their use of race remains necessary and justified. And, besides, it’s important for schools to know to know that they will have to be looking over their shoulders constantly if they insist on treating applicants differently on the basis of skin color and what country their ancestors came from.

There’s no rest for the wicked.

One last note: It will be interesting to see if the Trump administration believes that part of making America great again is following the principles of E pluribus unum and character-not-color when it comes to civil rights.

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A Quota Averted – Early last week I warned thatthe White House had posted on its website excerpts from news story on an imminent executive order on historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), timed to correspond with the end of Black History Month and the Washington visit of many of the schools’ presidents. Such an order might be fine, I pointed out, but it also might not be, and it was disturbing that the White House website chose to excerpt a part of the news story that discusses the desire of some to set numerical, percentage goals here for the federal government’s contracting and other funding.  These would be racial quotas, and I said I hoped the Trump administration would just say no.

Well, the executive order on historically black colleges and universities that President Trump  finally signed later in the week did not contain the numerical, percentage goals (i.e., quotas) for federal funding and contracting that some had been pushing for, and for that we should be grateful to the administration. Whether it is wise, or even constitutional, for the federal government to continue to single out these schools for special treatment in other, vaguer respects is a question that should also be considered. For now, though, many thanks.