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Daily Newscasts

Supreme Test of Voluntary Integration

December 4, 2006

New York, NY - The nation's highest court takes up the thorny issue of school integration today for the first time since 1995. At issue are voluntary integration plans adopted in Louisville and Seattle, and whether those efforts to promote racial inclusion violate the Constitutional goal of equal protection. Ted Shaw, with the New York based NAACP Legal Defense Fund says the stakes go far beyond racial fairness in the classroom.

"Our adversaries argue that anything that is race-conscious is racist. That (attitude) could have devastating effects; it would mean scholarships to minority students, pipeline programs into corporate America or PhDs, all out the window."

Shaw claims that despite the 1952 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Brown vs. Board of Education) promising equal access to quality education, the numbers show that since the 1970s, America's schools are returning to racial isolation.

"Nearly 40 percent of Black and Latino students attend intentionally segregated schools where the population is between 90 and 100 percent minorities. That's the reality of our country today; we honor 'Brown' in principle, but not in practice. This is the last gasp of 'Brown' that we are trying to preserve."

According to Shaw, the issue comes down to whether school boards can look out for the greater good.

"These school districts are opting for voluntary integration plans and there ought to be some deference to that local control. This is going to be a very important case with respect to telling us where the Roberts Supreme Court may be going on issues of race."

Parents of some white students counter that the diversity policies violate their children's individual rights.

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY