May 16, 2002
Seattle schools react to 9th Circuit Decision

Today's Seattle Times contained two articles concerning a court decision that banned race as a consideration for determining student placement. The first is a news story reporting on the numerical and percentage compositions of the entering classes for the 2001 and 2002 school years, with quotes from both supporters and detractors of the decision. The news piece appears to be relatively balanced, although I might quibble with occasional word choice or phrasing.

Glancing over the article, it is apparent that the "education establishment" in Seattle is upset by the ruling. The superintendent, Joseph Olchefske, commenting on Ballard High (32.3% nonwhite, down from last year's 44.9%) and Franklin High (88.1% nonwhite, compared with last year's 79.7% nonwhite), remarked that students are losing "the kind of richness culturally and socially that I think we could have." An assistant principal at Nathan Hale High School (39% nonwhite, last year 45.3%) groused, "That's going in the wrong direction. We want to increase the number of students of color at Hale, not decrease it." Both are obviously operating from the assumption that diversity is always good. However, the leader of the group that sued the district, Kathleen Brose, pointed out that neighborhood schools are important as well, a view echoed by James Kelly, the president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

The second article is an op-ed piece jointly written by all of the high school principals in the Seattle School District. It is long on trendy theories on why diversity in schools is important, and short on hard facts. There is a lengthy quote from Cornell West (big surprise) that fulminates against "maldistribution of wealth and power" and condemns the "weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, homophobia, and ecological abuse". The fact that these educators chose such a comment to support their position speaks volumes of their outlook on education. Later, they state that they are "grateful for the opportunity to make public the long-standing need for discourse about institutionalized racism, white privilege and their effect on student learning," and they remark about embracing "standards of equity and social justice as well". If I had children attending a school led by one of these people, I would look for a private school that I could afford, or take a serious look at home schooling. I do not agree with what they are pushing, and I would not want any children of mine subjected to an agenda such as they propose, one that appears to emphasize diversity over teaching. Diversity is not bad or wrong, but it should not have any bearing on educational policy.

posted on May 16, 2002 10:07 PM


They want diversity of skin color, but not diversity of ideas. If it is the content of a person's character that should matter, and not his skin color, then these school principals stand with the racists of the Jim Crow South in regarding skin color as dominating. If for the last thirty years people had given as much attention to actually providing quality education to minority groups as they did to their trendy nostrums of forcing "diversity" and other wrong-headed fads, and left the fads to fester unimplemented in the Education Colleges, we would now have a highly educated populace of all races, more people of black and Mexican ancestry would have qualified for colleges without racial preferences, and we would have avoided much idiocy, resentment, waste of talent, and waste of resources. These incompetents have ruined two generations of school children, and not just minority students either. How many more will we let them ruin before we toss them out?

posted by Michael Lonie on May 19, 2002 05:44 PM

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