All the money pouring into school choice helps hire professionals to give a positive spin to a poor idea. What can be wrong with giving parents choice and take state dollars with them to charter and private schools, spin masters say.
Some parents cannot resist the allure of a selective quasi ‘private education’ even if it is not high quality. Today the Supreme Court provided a compelling ruling that can change the conversation.
Some charters and private schools do have admission policies to attract some minority students, and traditional public schools create magnet programs to help schools become more diverse. Too often, these strategies result in schools within schools, segregated by race and socio economic status. What is needed are not subterfuges, no matter how well intended.
Major universities have taken on the challenge to become more diverse, only to face lawsuits. The case against the University of Texas reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In a surprise decision today, Justice Kennedy read the majority opinion to uphold the University of Texas’ admission policy. Seventy-five percent of freshmen are admitted if they are in the top ten percent of their high school class. The remaining students are admitted using race as one of several factors. This can result in denial of admission of some students with higher grades and test scores than admitted students. Yet, the University argued that diversity was a positive benefit to students and society. The Court also claimed that alternative non raced based admissions strategies were not successful in meeting the University’s diversity goals.
These goals are applicable not just to universities, but to all schools. Proponents of public schools can cite the Supreme Court ruling to their advantage. For example, for a school to be a good school, it must be diverse in order to serve its students well. Public school advocates can also point to current choice admissions policies as unworkable in achieving educational goals that meet society’s needs.
What are the diversity goals upheld by the Supreme Court?
- ending stereotypes
- promoting cross-racial understanding
- preparing students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society
- cultivating leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry
These are goals that public schools should publically endorse and work with communities to implement. Public schools can counteract the choice ‘spin’ by promoting the value of equal access to a high quality education. Everyone benefits.