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Unformatted text preview: Desegregation Af 1ac Desegregation Advantage
U.S. schools still face rampant segregation --- reviving federal intervention is critical to
reverse the trend
Scott, 16 --- Ranking Member on the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the US House of
Representatives (5/19/16, Bobby, “America's schools are still segregated by race and class. That has to
end,” , accessed on 5/8/17, JMP) This week marks the 62nd anniversary of the landmark supreme court ruling in Brown v Board of
Education, which concluded that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”, and compelled
states to provide for educational opportunity that is “available to all on equal terms”.
Thanks in large part to federal intervention in the decades following Brown, students experienced
indisputable academic and social benefits inherent to racially and socioeconomically diverse learning
environments. A recent report by the Century Foundation affirms that learning in diverse environments
improves critical thinking and problem solving . But as time marched on, deliberate government action
and meaningful federal oversight fell by the wayside in many communities .
Two years ago, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Brown, I joined two of my colleagues in
formally asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine racial and socioeconomic
isolation in K-12 public schools and the resulting impact on educational equity. I did this because
research consistently shows that our nation’s public schools remain segregated by both race and class,
producing inequitable access to educational opportunity that has robbed our nation’s most vulnerable
students of learning gains and later life success. In the face of many skeptics who denied that segregation
was occurring, we asked the GAO to confirm what researchers claimed.
The report resulting from this inquiry is staggering. The GAO has confirmed that our nation’s schools are,
in fact, largely segregated by race and class. What’s more troubling in their findings is that segregation in
public K-12 schools is not getting better, but it is rapidly getting worse. The report shows that more than
20 million students of color now attend racially and socioeconomically isolated public schools . That is
up from under 14 million students in 2001.
The GAO also confirms that high-poverty, high-minority schools are under-resourced and overdisciplined. Students attending these schools are less likely to have access to advance coursework and
more likely to be suspended or expelled. The GAO found that our nation’s public schools are separate,
and they are unequal .
If our nation is going to close persistent achievement gaps and prepare all students for success in a 21stcentury economy, we must seriously address racial and socioeconomic integration at every level in our
Our children cannot afford for us to sit idly by in the face of these facts. This report is a call to action, and
we urge our colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – to heed that call. December marked enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), an overhaul of our nation’s K-12
policy and the replacement of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Working across the aisle, we
successfully enacted a new K-12 law that both affords more flexibility to states and school districts and
upholds the civil rights legacy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The ESSA
maintains strong federal protections for disadvantaged students.
As states and school districts work to implement the new law, Congress, the US Department of
Education, and the US Department of Justice must bolster actions to reverse this alarming trend of
resegregation in our nation’s public schools. And the federal government must respond when and
where segregation and resulting racial disparities in education persists. The ESSA presents an
opportunity to reinvigorate a national effort to integrate public K-12 education and advance opportunity
for every child.
That’s why I have introduced HR 5260, the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act with my friend
Representative John Conyers of Michigan to empower parents and communities to address – through
robust enforcement – racial inequities in public education. This bill would amend Title VI of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, which bars any entity that receives federal dollars from discriminating on the basis of
race, color, or national origin, by restoring the individual right of action in cases involving disparate
The bill would also create an assistant secretary of education to proactively monitor and enforce
compliance with Title VI, and support newly required school district Title VI monitors. I have also asked
my Republican colleague, the education and the workforce committee chairman, John Kline, to convene
a series of hearings on the GAO’s findings.
Despite congressional gridlock, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to tackle some big
problems. We’ve replaced No Child Left Behind, updated workforce development laws and are currently
tackling the nation’s opioid epidemic. We must also work together to eliminate the vestiges of the preBrown era of public education that remain to this day. Segregation is decimating minority students opportunity to receive a quality education
Hertz, 14 --- masters student in public policy at the University of Chicago, has written about urban
affairs for several publications, including Citylab (7/24/14, Daniel, “You’ve probably never heard of one of
the worst Supreme Court decisions; But we're still dealing with its awful legacy,”
, accessed on 5/14/17, JMP) Forty years ago this month, the Supreme Court released one of its most villainous, yet underappreciated, decisions. Its legacy hangs over nearly every major school system in the country , but its
name means nothing to most people.
Milliken v. Bradley began in 1970, when the NAACP sued the state of Michigan to desegregate Detroit’s
schools. In particular, they wanted a solution that would involve both the city and the suburbs since, by that point, the vast majority of Detroit’s residents were black, and meaningful de-segregation within city
limits had become almost impossible.
After hours of testimony on redlining, exclusionary zoning, police-sanctioned violence, and other sordid
tales of American housing discrimination, the federal judge on the case, Stephen Roth, agreed with the
plaintiffs that government “at all levels” bore responsibility for residential segregation. As a result, Roth
concluded, the government could not legitimately enforce the school boundaries that residential
segregation was designed to exploit.
If the school districts’ boundary lines were drawn today, he wrote, they would be struck down as
Roth’s proposal, instead of redrawing the Detroit area’s school districts, was simply to make them
irrelevant: he ruled that some black students from Detroit would have to enroll in schools out in the
suburbs, and lots of white kids in the suburbs would have to enroll in schools in Detroit.
The plan was not without its problems. But it was the first time a judge had recognized the crucial role
city-suburb borders played in maintaining segregated schools, and ordered a major metropolitan area to
do something about it.
Unfortunately, in July 1974, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn Roth. The majority found no
evidence that governments had encouraged segregation in the Detroit metro area – despite, for
example, the fact that the mayor of suburban Dearborn had been quoted just a few years before in the
New York Times saying, “I favor segregation.” Before that, he told a newspaper: “Every time we hear of a
Negro moving…in, we respond quicker than you do to a fire.”
Among Dearborn’s 90,000 residents, there were fewer than 100 black people.
In other realms, Roth’s logic – that political boundaries must be subservient to larger questions of justice,
including segregation – is taken for granted. Think, for example, about Congressional districts. To start
with, they’re redrawn every ten years to adjust to shifting populations. Not only that, but there are lots
of rules designed to make sure the new districts aren’t unfair in ways that violate anyone’s civil rights. If
they are, they can be thrown out by a judge, and ordered to be redrawn.
We go through all of this because we understand that unfair Congressional districts can be devastating
for minority communities, denying them political power and, along with it, the ability to fight for policies
that improve their lives.
School districts, of course, play just as large a role in determining their residents’ life chances, but share
basically none of these rules. In general, school districts don’t have to be redrawn at any regular interval,
and many haven’t changed for decades, if not generations.
No one is reviewing the districts that already exist, to make sure that they’ve been drawn in ways that
don’t unfairly disadvantage anyone. And they’re certainly not throwing out school districts, and ordering
them to be redrawn to, say, reduce segregation.
In fact, more recently the Supreme Court has voted to curtail attempts to desegregate even within
school districts, to the extent it’s possible. Predictably, the result of all this is that many American school districts are moving towards pre-Civil
Rights Movement levels of racial separation . In the last few years, reports from ProPublica and UCLA’s
Civil Rights Project, among others, have found that school segregation has been getting worse for
Sometimes, we’re tempted to justify our separate schools by arguing that they’re equal. Or, more
accurately, that they could be equal: we tell the stories of racially and economically segregated schools
that have “beaten the odds” by performing as well academically as their wealthier, more integrated
peers. But entire school districts shouldn’t have to “beat the odds” to get a decent education.
Moreover, as the phrase implies, the vast majority don’t. In his book Fives Miles Away, A World Apart,
law professor James Ryan cites a study that found that high-poverty, high-minority schools have a onein-300 chance of being “high-performing,” or scoring in the top third of schools on at least two subjects
in two grades over two years. Mostly white, middle-class schools have a one-in-four shot.
Nor is more money enough, even where it’s needed. Studies have shown that low-income students learn
more in economically integrated schools than they do in mostly poor ones – even when the poor
schools have more funding .
Piercing school district borders – the walls that prevent enrollment or, in many cases, funds from
being spread more evenly between white or relatively more affluent districts and ones populated by
black, brown, or poorer families nearby – isn’t a simple task, politically or logistically.
But the five justices who wrote Milliken 40 years ago wanted us to believe something else: that it wasn’t
a necessary task, morally.
They were wrong. These problems will become more entrenched under Trump --- the DOE’s Office of Civil
Rights will be restricted and greater “school choice” will fuel more segregation and
strengthen the school-to-prison pipeline
Quinlan, 3/1/17 --- education reporter at ThinkProgress, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (Casey,
“Trump won’t protect students’ civil rights; Trump says he wants to help disadvantaged students, but his
administration’s actions will do the opposite,” , accessed on 5/8/17,
JMP) In his first speech before a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump called education “the civil
rights issue of our time,” even as his actions threaten to significantly weaken the U.S. Department of
Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ statements over the past couple weeks call into question
whether she will prioritize civil rights issues at the department — and the Trump administration’s reported choices to lead the Office for Civil Rights suggest its enforcement may be significantly
The office handles complaints about the violations of rights of students with disabilities, Title IX
violations (including those related to women’s access to sports and campus rape investigations), and
racially disparate student discipline.
In an interview earlier this month with Axios, DeVos was asked whether, in an ideal world, the federal
government would have a role in education. She said she hadn’t reached a conclusion, and that although
there was a “time when, you know, girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams,” and
“we had segregated schools,” she couldn’t think of other remaining issues where the federal government
“I can’t think of any now,” DeVos said.
DeVos has also promised to audit the Education Department and told a Michigan radio show host earlier
this month she guarantees “there are things the department has been doing that are probably not
necessary or important for a federal agency to do.”
Civil rights groups are concerned about who the Trump administration would pick to lead the Office for
Civil Rights. This week, more than 60 civil rights groups signed a letter to DeVos urging her to pick an OCR
head who will do the following: collect and report data that shows where students don’t have access to
equal opportunity in education; investigate system discrimination; and ensure justice for students who
report discrimination through complaints to the office.
DeVos pledged that the office would keep investigating claims of discrimination against LGBTQ students,
but that statement may ring hollow given that the Trump administration moved to roll back protections
for transgender students last week. Although education secretaries have historically had a role to play in
choosing the head of the OCR, it falls on Trump’s shoulders to make the pick.
And one of the people being considered to lead the OCR — University of San Diego law professor Gail
Heriot — has a track record of criticizing the office’s approach to Title IX violations related to campus
sexual assault, as well as its guidance on transgender students’ rights.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Derek Black, a law professor at the University of South
Carolina School of Law, said of Heriot, “With these individuals in place, it is hard to
imagine much good happening at the federal level. Even if they do not rescind other
department positions on integration, school discipline, English language learners, and school resources,
they are very unlikely to enforce existing regulations and policy guidance.”
In addition to concerns that the OCR will be weakened, Trump’s interest in expanding private school
vouchers could create exacerbate civil rights violations. Trump said in his address before Congress:
I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for
disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should
be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them. But there isn’t evidence to show that vouchers actually improve the quality of education students
receive or boost student achievement. Recent research shows that in many cases, vouchers hurt student
Vouchers can also increase racial and economic school segregation. Many years of research have shown
that choice programs tend to benefit advantaged students the most. In schools where the population is
predominantly African American, black students are suspended at higher rates. And harsh student
discipline against students of color fuels the school-to-prison pipeline , and reduces opportunities for
the disadvantaged youth Trump refers to. As a guiding principle, Trump and Devos are infatuated with
“local control” that empirically fuels segregation --- only
reigning them in can promote school equality
Needham, 5/10/17 --- adjunct law professor and attorney who has worked in
the areas of First Amendment, education, and labor law (Lisa, “The Future Looks
Grim for School Desegregation, as a Recent Alabama Case Shows,”
, accessed on 6/13/17, JMP) In 1965, 11 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of
Education decision, Blevins Stout, a Black resident of Jefferson County, Alabama,
filed a lawsuit seeking to enroll his daughter, Linda, in the all-white county school
district. In doing so, Stout hoped to desegregate the county school system.
Jefferson County has been under a desegregation court order ever since.
In the last five decades, desegregation efforts in the country have proceeded in fits
and starts, with school systems dissolved, transfer plans rejected, and schools
forcibly merged after districts refused to begin busing. Desegregation court orders
vary in scope. In Jefferson County, the district initially had a good deal of discretion
as to how to meet desegregation goals. However, it initially chose plans such as
“freedom of choice,” in which Black students had to request transfers to
predominantly white schools. Later courts disapproved of this sort of plan precisely
because it shifted the burden to Black students.
Last month, the most recent battle in this long, long war of a case came to an end:
An Alabama federal district court judge ruled that a mostly white suburb called
Gardendale can partially separate from the surrounding Jefferson County schools
and create its own school system, even though its desire to do so is motivated by
Gardendale is a mostly white suburb that abuts mostly Black Birmingham,
Alabama, both of which are in Jefferson County. It’s also much more affluent than
Birmingham. Thanks to a quirk of Alabama law, it is totally permissible for
individual municipalities to break off from county-level control and form their own school districts. Predominantly white towns in Jefferson County have tried to do so
repeatedly, and sometimes they have succeeded.
Gardendale has been contemplating separation from the Jefferson County schools
for decades, but the effort began in earnest back in 2012. Organizers of the effort
explained their motivation for wanting to leave in vague terms like “general
improvements in education” and “historically in many areas, including Alabama, a
smaller system with individual local control … tend[s] to perform better
academically than larger systems.” (Judge Madeline Haikala’s 190-page decision
notes this is demonstrably not true, as different Alabama municipal systems
consistently rank at both the top and the bottom, achievement-wise, regardless of
Other explanations from the organizers and other backers of the plan, however,
engaged in exactly the sort of coded racism that pervades opposition to integrated
schools. The court decision notes that parents complained of students being bused
in from all over and invoked the specter of Gardendale becoming another Pinson or
Huffman—nearby, predominantly Black towns. It also cites the fact that a flyer was
circulated with a picture of a white student and the slogan “What path will
Gardendale choose?” The flyer listed cities in Jefferson County that have integrated
or those with mostly Black populations in order to invoke a contrast with
predominantly white Gardendale.
The desire to separate also seemed motivated by greed. The judge pointed out that
Jefferson County had recently built a $55 million dollar high school in Gardendale,
and Gardendale believed that if it separated, it could take the high school with it
The court found that Gardendale’s separation would indeed make Gardendale’s
schools whiter. It also found that the City was motivated by “a desire to control the
racial demographics of the four public schools in the City of Gardendale,” and to
avoid enrolling the Black students that are currently being bused to Gardendale
pursuant to the desegregation order.
And yet, the judge partially approved Gardendale’s desire to...
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- Fall '19