Last month I got into a discussion with Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation following the US Supreme Court decision in Meredith v Jefferson County Board of Education.
I opined, "I suspect what you will see now is a shift toward economics as a basis for future busing schemes. Since African Americans are overrepresented among the poor, the real impact of the Court’s decision may be limited in some places. In other places, probably in most places, it will result in a racial resegregation. The extent to which communities have built diverse neighborhoods will determine the extent of the impact."
Here's an example from San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO — When San Francisco started trying to promote socioeconomic diversity in its public schools, officials hoped racial diversity would result as well.
It has not worked out that way.
Abraham Lincoln High School, for example, with its stellar reputation and Advanced Placement courses, has drawn a mix of rich and poor students. More than 50 percent of those students are of Chinese descent.
“If you look at diversity based on race, the school hasn’t been as integrated,” Lincoln’s principal, Ronald J. K. Pang, said. “If you don’t look at race, the school has become much more diverse.”
San Francisco began considering factors like family income, instead of race, in school assignments when it modified a court-ordered desegregation plan in response to a lawsuit. But school officials have found that the 55,000-student city school district, with Chinese the dominant ethnic group followed by Hispanics, blacks and whites, is resegregrating.
The number of schools where students of a single racial or ethnic group make up 60 percent or more of the population in at least one grade is increasing sharply. In 2005-06, about 50 schools were segregated using that standard as measured by a court-appointed monitor. That was up from 30 schools in the 2001-02 school year, the year before the change, according to court filings.
The San Francisco experience is telling because after the recent United States Supreme Court decision restricting the use of race-based school assignment plans, many districts are expected to switch to economic integration plans like San Francisco’s as a legal way to seek diversity. As many as 40 districts around the country are already experimenting with such plans, according to an analysis by Richard D. Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy research group....
...Economic integration initiatives differ from each other, and from many traditional integration efforts that relied on mandatory transfer of students among schools. Some of the new initiatives involve busing but some do not; some rely on student choice, while some also use a lottery. And so it is difficult to measure how far students travel or how many students switch schools.
The most ambitious effort and the example most often cited as a success is in the city of Raleigh, N.C., and its suburbs.
For seven years the district has sought to cap the proportion of low-income students in each of the county’s 143 schools at 40 percent....
This from the New York Times.
And this from the Star-Ledger.
While the idea is not universally supported, officials and experts said it could prove the winning constitutional ingredient for other districts -- including New Jersey's Montclair and Englewood -- that have openly sought to integrate their schools by race but may now be challenged by the court's latest ruling.
"There's no doubt it is perfectly legal, and I think you'll see a lot more districts looking at going in this direction," said Richard Kah lenberg, a senior fellow of the Century Fund in Washington, D.C., and one of the strategy's biggest supporters.
Kahlenberg said he has already been approached by officials in Louisville, Ky., one of the districts whose race-based plan was rejected by the high court on Thursday.
"I use as comparison our in come tax system, where we treat the rich differently than those of low-income," he said. "There is no constitutional controversy about that; it is perfectly accepted. But if we did that by race, there would be outcry."
The discussion arises in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that barred plans in Louisville's Jefferson County and in Seattle that count heavily on race in determining where students attend schools.