Understanding Integration

As soon as the SCOTUS decision came down, you knew there would be a great deal of debate over it. Rightly so. Conservatives have been whining about reverse discrimination since it first became clear integration was here to stay. Now that its been rolled back by the courts, the anti-immigration argument is again on display as an exemplar of ignorance (Amanda, emphasis mine):

From reader has_te, this article about how much whites underestimate the problem of racism shines some light onto why some white people, particularly the gullible swing voters types and not the ones who vigorously defend rolling back Brown v. the Board of Education on blogs, might not understand why racism is still a very real problem.

That one fundamental fact is at the center of the debate over affirmative action and race-based admission policies.  On the pro-integration side of things, here is the argument:

  1. Educational opportunity is not equally present.
  2. It should be.
  3. To get to a point where it is equally present, we need to even the playing field.

On the anti-integration side of things, the argument has evolved from:

  • Black people shouldn’t have the same opportunities

To:

  • Black people finally have the same opportunities

To make their argument, segregationists argue that because everything is hunky-dory when it comes to race and education, all integrationists are doing is discriminating based on race.  This is patently false.  Integration and affirmative action act to attempt to bring educational opportunity to more people over time.

Another means to the same end would be use affirmative action to regulate resources allocated to schools.  In other words, if lack of access to quality education is really the issue driving the arguments against integration, why not address the problem of a limited resource?

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4 Responses

  1. I saw a plan where the kids were assigned by test scores. No school was allowed to have an exceptionally high performance level.

    That seems a better solution than arbitrarily sorting by color, but it still seems to penalize success.

    Perhaps they should sort the teachers and administrators in much the same way.

  2. All of this is solved automagically by ending government education. Does anyone contend that government schools are good, anyway? (CF my comment about entrepreneurs filling voids in the marketplace in the other thread…)

  3. 1. Alexia,
    I think sorting on income level is a good solution.
    Sorting teachers/admins is an interesting possibility. What about sorting all educational resources?
    Much of the problem with the ruling is that it essentially negates the idea that racism is still a problem in this country.
    2. bret,
    No it is not. In fact much of the opposition to government education and standards rose out of opposition to “educating coloreds”. The idea that everyone is entitled to a certain level of education is repugnant to some people even today.
    Public schools need a lot of work, but we should start by increasing the freedom of students, giving them more resources, and freeing teachers and administrators from relying on psychological and educational theory developed when we had one room schoolhouses.
    The market may fill some voids, but not all, not right away. And that is a lot of children to leave behind.

  4. True. Of course a reasonable transition period would have to take place. I concede that is wisest! However, I think we should note that the idea of public education, at least Federally-controlled, is not a very old one, it’s relatively young. Didn’t Carter start the Department of Education?

    Freedom increases to students when you don’t try to force them into curricula designed by the government. The government is not in the best position to tell people we need 5 engineers and 10 scientists and 4 artists, the market is. Which is why Bill Gates has to whine to Congress to increase the H1-B visa cap so he can import more Indians and Chinese to do the work.

    I understand the argument about racism. But I think Ron Paul has some good points about it, something like our continual efforts to stamp it out via government are having the opposite effect. You’ll never force people to live together, and you shouldn’t try anyway. Seems to operate similarly to schools.

    I don’t know how to bridge the gap – tolerance and inquisitiveness about others is something you have to learn at home. I am an army brat so half my friends growing up were mixed black, asian, and/or white. It was never a big deal to me. But after my dad retired and I attended a non-DOD school, I noticed how different things were.

    But frankly I trust the individual, from whatever race, to come up with faster/cheaper/better solutions to the problems of their community on a local level, far more than I trust some committee in Washington to flail around and throw a bunch of money at the problem. After all, I don’t believe they truly want to solve the problems, because it gives them something to campaign on during the next election cycle . . .

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