Public Education

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Race Matters Everywhere Else in America - Why Shouldn’t It Matter in College Admissions?

Race Matters Everywhere Else in America - Why Shouldn’t It Matter in College Admissions?

By Courtney Bowie, Racial Justice Program at 10:25am
Today, the Supreme Court will hear the so-called affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas.  The Court will decide whether or not the university’s use of race, as one of many factors in its admissions process, is constitutional. However, in order to even address the complex issue of race in admissions and the Equal Protection clause claims raised by the plaintiff, we have to acknowledge and to some extent, take part in the nonsensical, magical thinking that underlies the notion that race neutrality is somehow achieved by the discontinued use of race in admissions.   This magical thinking is summed up by those opposed to affirmative action and supported by Chief Justice Roberts’ statement in a 2007 decision (Parents Involved) that the “way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”  But with this country’s history and its current racial inequities, ignoring race and racism is not a race-neutral act.  Simply put, ignoring racism harms people of color.  Ending affirmative action will not end discrimination, it will entrench the racial inequality that stubbornly persists in our country. We strive for a race neutral world, but right now we live in one that is persistently segregated.  Racial disparities persist in the criminal justice system, in the delivery of health care and in income levels. Our country is still one where we can identify the racial make-up of most schools, neighborhoods and board rooms.  And still, more than fifty years after the Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, one-third of black students attend schools with a 90% black population and those schools have fewer funds than those that are predominantly white.  These disparities will only change if we have diverse leaders in the future to enact policies to change them.   The University of Texas and other public universities seek to enroll a diverse student body so that it can cultivate diverse leaders for its state and our nation. Without continued emphasis on diversity, the public universities of this country run the risk of becoming closed to many black and Latino students. There is no doubt that this will occur because it has already happened.  When the University of Texas discontinued the use of race in its admissions in 1997, the percentage of black and Latino students fell dramatically.  We see the consequences since the University of California system discontinued its use of race in admissions:  Black and Latino students are now dramatically underrepresented in the system when compared with their total population throughout the state. The  critical question is whether we, as a society, want to permit that.  Public universities should be a stepping stone for all members of society, not just some. The case being heard today will impact universities throughout the country. Let’s hope that the Court will consider this case through the lens of the country that we are, and not the country that we want to be.  If that is done, Texas and other schools will be permitted to use race as one factor, among many, in the admissions process as we strive to achieve the still-elusive goal of racial equality. The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief supporting Texas’ use of race in its admissions process. Read it here.
A School Voucher by Any Other Name

A School Voucher by Any Other Name

By Heather L. Weaver, ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at 11:25am

Thirty million. That’s the amount of tax dollars that could be diverted annually from New Hampshire’s coffers to private schools by the year 2022 if the state is allowed to implement its new Education Tax Credit Program. Under the tax credit…

The New York Times Highlights ACLU's Religious Freedom Work in Public Schools

The New York Times Highlights ACLU's Religious Freedom Work in Public Schools

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU at 12:29pm

Contrary to what you might see elsewhere on the Internet, the ACLU is not trying to eliminate religion from public schools.

Solution to Campus Diversity Problem Isn't Segregation Everywhere Else

Solution to Campus Diversity Problem Isn't Segregation Everywhere Else

By Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program & Courtney Bowie, Racial Justice Program at 6:04pm

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in the university admissions case, Fisher v. University of Texas. In it, the Court left intact the important principle that universities have a compelling interest in a diverse student body,…

Standing Up for What You Believe In

Standing Up for What You Believe In

By Jordan Anderson, ACLU Plaintiff. In late 2011, the ACLU and ACLU of South Carolina brought a lawsuit against Chesterfield County School District on behalf of student Jordan Anderson and his father, Jonathan Anderson. The lawsuit sought to put a stop to the school district’s widespread religious freedom violations, including official prayer at school events, school-day assemblies featuring preaching, and displays of religious symbols such as crosses and the Ten Commandments. The lawsuit resulted in a consent decree restoring religious freedom to all district students. Jordan’s blog is part of this week’s “Religious Freedom Goes to School” blog series.

Protecting Our Faith By Respecting the Constitution

Protecting Our Faith By Respecting the Constitution

By Rev. Paul Wood

Paul Wood is a minister at the First United Methodist Church in Cheraw, South Carolina. His blog is part of this week’s “Religious Freedom Goes to School” blog series. Share your story about religious freedom…

Backpacks and Belief:  Religious Freedom Goes to School in South Carolina

Backpacks and Belief: Religious Freedom Goes to School in South Carolina

By Heather L. Weaver, ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at 4:34pm

The new school year starts this week for most public schools across South Carolina, and the ACLU wants to make sure students, parents, and schools are primed on one particularly important subject: religious freedom. That’s why the ACLU and…

Second-Class Citizens in the Classroom: Promoting Religion in Public Schools Is Hurting Our Family

Second-Class Citizens in the Classroom: Promoting Religion in Public Schools Is Hurting Our Family

By J.A. & Jonathan Anderson & J.A. at 2:09pm

An ACLU lawsuit filed today challenges a pervasive practice of school-sponsored prayer, preaching and religious activities in a South Carolina school district.

VICTORY! Bipartisan Group of Legislators Lead Oregon to Equal Access to Education Law

VICTORY! Bipartisan Group of Legislators Lead Oregon to Equal Access to Education Law

By Becky Straus, Legislative Director, ACLU of Oregon at 10:29am

Today in front of a packed room of supporters, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law HB 2787, a law that brings access to in-state tuition to all Oregonians, regardless of immigration status. The governor's action marked the culmination of an over ten-year-long…

Respecting All Faiths in Our Public Schools

Respecting All Faiths in Our Public Schools

By Dr. A. Scott Henderson. When I was a first-year teacher, I had the opportunity to tutor an eighth-grade boy (I’ll call him “John”) who had recently moved to the United States from India. We spent an hour together each day for an entire school year. During that time I got to know John pretty well.

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