, 2008

over 2 million served




Visit our sister site
home to conservatives
in arts and entertainment

Somewhere between
Hollywood and Vine
lies ExileStreet

In Residence:
Julia Gorin
Burt Prelutsky
Steve Finefrock
Patrick Hurley
Ralph Peters
Bruce Thornton


Julia Gorin

by Julia Gorin


Wounded Warrior
Please Help Those
Who Protect Us

Burt Prelutsky

The Secret of Their

by Burt Prelutsky

Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
by Burt Prelutsky

America Alone
by Mark Steyn

The CRO Store




San Francisco

School Quality, Not Race
by Lance T. Izumi 7/31/07

Most of the attention following the United States Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 et al. has focused on the court’s ruling that race cannot be used as a “tiebreaker” in assigning students to certain schools. Less discussed, but just as important from an education standpoint, was the court’s debate over how best to ensure quality education for all children.

In the case, the Seattle and Louisville public school systems had instituted programs to ensure racial balance in schools by using race to limit student transfers or as a tiebreaker to decide which students would be admitted to particular schools. Parents in both districts sued, arguing that these race-based programs violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, sided with the parents saying that racial balancing is unconstitutional discrimination.

Lance T. Izumi
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Lance Izumi is Director of Education Studies for the Pacific Research Institute and
Senior Fellow in California Studies. He is a leading expert in education policy and the author of several major PRI studies. [go to Izumi index]

In an opinion joined by four out of the five members of the court majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that prior to the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision “schoolchildren were told were they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.” Similarly, in this case, he asked, “What do the racial classifications at issue here do, if not accord differential treatment on the basis of race?” The chief justice declared, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer took several tacks. First, he argued that it was permissible to treat people differently based on race if the intentions of the school districts were noble. Chief Justice Roberts retorted effectively, warning: “Simply because the school districts may seek a worthy goal does not mean they are free to discriminate on the basis of race to achieve it, or that their racial classifications should be subject to less exacting scrutiny.”

Breyer also said that school boards have a compelling interest in racially balancing schools because such programs can improve the educational outcomes of minority students. Breyer admitted, however, that the social science on this question is far from clear. Indeed, Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion to Chief Justice Roberts, noted, “In reality, it is far from apparent that coerced racial mixing has any educational benefits, much less that integration is necessary to black achievement.” Not only do analyses of existing research show little educational benefit resulting from race balancing and integration in schools, Thomas pointed out that several important studies showed that minority students can achieve at high levels in schools that are “racially isolated.”

For example, Thomas cited They Have Overcome: High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools in California, a study by the Pacific Research Institute. Thomas observed that the PRI study chronicles “exemplary achievement in predominantly Hispanic schools in California.” The PRI study analyzed the instructional and learning models used at these schools to understand why they were succeeding while so many schools with similar demographics were failing. According to the PRI study, “excuses such as low income, family background, racial diversity, limited English proficiency, and standardized test bias are invalid and should be ignored.” (emphasis added)

“Schools can overcome these challenges,” explained the study, “by focusing on key factors that include: empirically proven research-based curricula; empirically proven research-based teaching methods; comprehensive use of the state academic content standards as goals for student learning, guideposts for teaching, and tools for professional development; use of frequent assessment as a diagnostic tool for identifying student and teacher performance; standards-based professional development that emphasizes subject matter; teacher quality and teacher willingness to use proven curricula and methods; strong discipline policies that emphasize sanctions and rewards; [and] increased flexibility to use available funding, and reduction in bureaucratic rules.” 

If school districts really want to improve the performance of all their students, they should forego the temptation to mask their race-balancing programs to avoid the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling. These programs should be dismantled immediately because they are unconstitutional and morally repugnant. Instead, as the PRI study laid out, school districts should focus on what works in the classroom so students of all races can succeed. CRO

copyright 2007 Pacific Research Institute



American Express
Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes
Overstock.com, Inc.
Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC
Overstock.com, Inc.
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2008 CaliforniaRepublic.org