20 November 2007

Magnet Schools to Ignore Race

Cincinnati Public Schools has come around 180 degrees from the 1980s when busing was used to force integrate the schools. Price Hill and OTR once traded about half of their students in an attempt to acheive racial balance. All that did was frustrate parents and drive many to other districts or private schools. Busing ended at least 10 years ago, but today the school board announced that race will not be a determining factor at all in determining who can enter the magnet school programs.

Cincinnati Enquirer Article.
...Acting in response to June's U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared Seattle's and Louisville's broad race-based admissions criteria unconstitutional, the board erased Cincinnati's more limited integration program, developed in 1975.

Effective immediately, students on CPS's magnet school waiting lists will be admitted strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. Previously, students who could not get into a magnet school were kept on separate "black" and "non-black" lists that could be tapped as needed to keep a racial balance.


Cynthia Dillon, the district's top lawyer, said CPS may eventually consider a more complicated list of criteria that could assure diversity without explicitly mentioning race, which the court indicated might pass muster.

But for now, with the magnet enrollment process coming soon, the district needed to enact a policy that was clearly legal, she said.

"We also didn't want to put something in now that would instantly put us up for potential challenge," Dillon said. "I don't like legal bills."

Gender was not part of the Supreme Court case or part of the CPS official policy, but Dillon said she expects that to be challenged eventually.

Clifton resident Suzann Kokoefer, a parent of a student at Sands Montessori, said the first-come, first-served policy will benefit parents who have the resources to stake out an early spot in line - paid vacation and a second car, for example.

"Montessori has always been based on the balance, and with race out of the picture, that balance can't be there," Kokoefer said.

CPS officials said they analyzed results of recent magnet school enrollment periods, and they believe removing race and gender will not substantially alter the programs' makeup.

It was initially unclear whether the Supreme Court's ruling was relevant to CPS, because a 1984 court order requiring it to integrate is still technically an open matter...

You can argue that racial quotas were never right to begin with, or you could argue that inequality and discrimination still exist and needs to be addressed. But the fact is this: times have changed. Today we have private schools recruiting minorities, and charter schools that have very high minority enrollment, the whole situation is turned-around from that of the 60s and 70s.

As of today, CPS has not posted the date for magnet school enrollment.


CityKin said...

I wonder if the pendulum could swing as far the other way to allow public schools to have separate boys and girls high schools?

Mark Miller said...

It's already being done. Here's a list:
Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys (Albany, NY)
Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls (Albany, NY)
Benjamin Mays Institute for Boys (Hartford, CT)
Charter School of San Diego, Tierrasanta Campus (San Diego, CA)
FitzSimons Middle School (Philadelphia, PA)
James Irwin Charter Middle School (Colorado Springs, CO)
Jefferson Leadership Academies (Long Beach, CA)
Lincoln Academy for Boys (Toledo, OH)
Mary McLeod Bethune Institute for Girls (Hartford, CT)
Middle College at Bennett (Greensboro, NC)
Middle College at North Carolina A&T (Greensboro, NC)
Moten Elementary School (Washington, DC)
Pepper Middle School (Philadelphia, PA)
Philadelphia High School for Girls (Philadelphia, PA)
San Francisco 49ers Academy (East Palo Alto, CA)
Southern Leadership Academies (Louisville, KT)
Spectrum High School for Girls (Milwaukee, WI)
Stewart Academy for Girls (Toledo, OH)
Thurgood Marshall Elementary School (Seattle, WA)
Western High School (Baltimore, MD)
Withrow University High School (Cincinnati, OH)
William A. Lawson Inst. for Peace and Prosperity Academy for Boys (Houston, TX)
Young Women's Leadership Charter School (Chicago, IL)
Young Women's Leadership School (Harlem, NY)

As a graduate of an all-guy high school, I highly recommend it. My academic performance would have been quite a bit lower if I had to do battle with my own hormones all day long.

Of course I would never have admitted that then. But now that I'm 40 something, it's obvious to me.

CityKin said...

Do you know much about these Mark? They are magnet programs, not charters, right? Have they been academically successful?

I think it is probably a good idea, especially for High School. Seems if the public school board designated one boys and one girls, and they had the exact same funding etc.., it would work. They could be brother/sister schools, and still have coordinated events like dances and sporting events.

Anonymous said...

Withrow is on the list and it is not a separate high school. There are separate classes for boys and girls for 9th and 10th, then combined, I believe. I do know that it is a coed high school.

Anonymous said...

There are some real inaccuracies in the history written here.

There never was a court order requiring busing. There was a consent decree in which the plaintiffs and CPS agreed to a program of magnet schools with target ratios for integration that reflected the district as a whole. After Bronson v. Board of Education was settled, though, many whites fled the district, fearing that they would be asked to sit next to black kids. That's when the suburbs began to grow.

1. The district did not use busing to force integration. Magnet schools were a way of encouraging integration rather than forcing it, on the theory that voluntary busing would be more palatable than mandatory busing. And that proved to be the case. Parents felt like they were getting something rather than giving up something. There never was a mandate, as there was in Boston, to bus black kids to white schools or white kids to black schools.

2. Busing did not end 10 years ago. Buses criss-cross the city every morning and every afternoon. What happened was that the court overseer certified that the Tauber index (the ratio of black to white) was being met and no additional oversight was necessary. Given that the district has had so many whites leave, magnet schools and a handful of neighborhood schools like Kilgour are the only schools that are integrated.

The lawsuit is technically still an open suit since the result was a consent decree. It would be interesting if someone decided to pick up the suit again.

I was in elementary school when the suit was brought and it was my school that was the immediate issue - the lead plaintiff attended our school and her family are good friends with mine. It is incredibly sad that magnet schools, which were installed here so that the program served the purpose of integration, are now cut loose from the purpose--the program serves the program. But realistically, given the Supreme Court's ruling and the time frame of magnet enrollment (early 08) there was little else they could do right now. Perhaps they'll find a better way for the future. But you know it will be challenged in court by disgruntled parents or Tom Brinkman's crusaders. And the district can't afford that, in terms of money or reputationn.

It's just really sad.

CityKin said...

^Thanks for the backround.

My comment about busing ending was a guess, based on my personal observation of kids from OTR being bused every day from neighborhood schools to Price Hill and vice-versa. I know that practice ended approximately 10 years ago, but back then I had no kids and had no interest in keeping abreast of the reasons. Perhaps that is when the magnet school progaram was expanded?

Do you know if they have considered using family income as a basis of integration instead of race?

I don't know how relevant the whole discussion is anymore seeing how so many students voluntarily attend all-black charter schools, and all-white private schools. The public school system is shooting itself in the foot by trying to force society to integrate. People keep finding a way to self segregate, either by moving out of the district or alternative schools.

The other thing that I found odd was that my son's teacher said to me last year that our magnet school was already turning more white, because they already stopped considering race two years ago. Maybe she was wrong, but she was speaking from personal experience of the kids in her classroom.