Imagine that you're a parent of a school-age child. How would you feel if the school board told you your child could not be admitted to the public school of your choice because your child is the wrong color!
It happens hundreds or thousands of times each school year. Three of the most visible, recent cases involve the Boston Latin School in Massachusetts, the Arlington Traditional School in Virginia, and the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. All three schools have been ordered to stop using racial criteria in admissions. In some cases (Boston and Virginia), the court has been forced to issue repeated orders to get the school districts to implement race-blind admissions policies.
[Author Kenneth Smith is deputy editor of The Washington Times editorial page. Mr. Smith's editorial, excerpted here, presents a cogent summary of the racial craziness that has infected our local schools.]
"Rosa Parks probably has no idea who Grace Tuttle, Rachel Sechler or Jacob Eisenberg are, and it will be some years before they are old enough to understand who the famed civil rights figure is and what she went through. But in their own unwitting way, they are following in the footsteps of the woman who refused to go to the back of the bus so many years ago or to be judged by the color of her skin.
"All three children sought entry into Washington-area "public" schools only to discover that the schools weren't so public after all; they restricted entry by skin color, and the schoolchildren -- white --turned out to be the wrong hue. Standing in the schoolhouse doorway to keep them out were not just local administrators and school board officials but the mighty U.S. Justice Department and the acting head of its civil rights division, Bill Lann Lee, and, in one case, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"Grace Tuttle and Rachel Sechler, both kindergarten-age children, sought admission in 1998 to Arlington [Va.] Traditional School, an institution with both a reputation for educational achievement and the record to merit it.
"... Arlington Traditional officials set up a lottery to decide who would get in the school, but the lottery had a racial spin. To ensure that the school's ethnic mix matched that of the county, they weighted the drawing in favor of groups considered underrepresented in the student population. ... Unfortunately for the little girls, they lost out in the skin-color competition and, subsequently, the admissions process.
"The case wound up in federal courts where first a district judge and then a unanimous three-judge panel for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out as unconstitutional the racial lottery. "The innocent third parties in this case are young kindergarten-age children like the Applicants who do not meet any of the [school's] diversity criteria. We find it ironic that a Policy that seeks to teach young children to view people as individuals rather than members of certain racial and ethnic groups classifies those same children as members of certain racial and ethnic groups."
"Jacob Eisenberg's case involved a racial bean-counting scheme even more complicated and bizarre than the girls faced. Scheduled to attend first grade at a neighborhood school in Montgomery County, Md., young Jacob showed such an interest in math and science that his parents thought another school with a magnet program in those subjects might better serve him. So they took advantage of the county's transfer procedures to get him into the magnet program.
"School officials turned him down on grounds of the transfer's "impact on diversity." It seems that enrollment in his neighborhood school was only 24 percent white, down from 39 percent just five years ago and already well below the overall county average of 54 percent.
"Because young Jacob's skin was white, school officials feared that his transfer would aggravate racial "isolation" in the school system.
"Jacob is hardly the only student to suffer at the hands of the diversity police. Pending some spectacular hardship, Montgomery County transfer policies forbid white children from leaving three elementary schools, blacks from leaving two elementary schools and Asians from leaving one. Parental notions of acting in the best educational interests of their children do not, by the way, qualify for hardship status.
"Think of it as a system that combines the racial postulates of the Jim Crow South with the administrative efficiency of a Wal Mart.
"A separate panel of the 4th
Circuit held this month that the transfer restrictions were unconstitutional, saying the
"evil of the system in place" is clear." (Washington Times Commentary
10/21/99 by Kenneth Smith)