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Racism & Education

The LA Times has an interesting editorial running today. It poses a question I find fascinating – is racism in the pursuit of a noble goal any less nefarious than racism in pursuit of a ignoble goal?

Taking account of race to bring children of different backgrounds together is fundamentally different from using race to keep those children apart.

Is it? I don’t know that I agree.

At the heart of the arguments Monday are simple racial quotas. If a neighborhood has a population that is 60% Caucasian and 40% minority, but the school age population (say 2000 kids) is 80% Caucasian and 20% minority, under the existing laws, the district can force the parents of 400 children to ship their kids to a school some distance away.

Never mind the fact that these parents have paid property taxes to the local district to build and maintain that school (which I think is the bigger issue that should be fixed), and ignore the fact that forced integration denies kids the simple joy of attending school with their friends, the use of racial quotas in such a solution serves no purpose that is inherent to the needs of the child.

The arguments made in favor of this practice by educators and administrators (that I have seen) have nothing to do with education or a right to it. The arguments they make are limited to their beliefs in social engineering. They feel the kids should be exposed, by force if necessary, to diversity or, at the very least, a school population that reflects the make up of their neighborhood.

It is really a specious argument.

The larger problem with our educational system is the method by which we fund it. If an argument is made to fund schools through a mechanism other than property taxes – so the value of a neighborhood’s homes does not relegate the children to less than equal educational opportunities – I will get behind it. I do not feel my child deserves a better education simply because my economic circumstances allow me to buy a more expensive home.

I am also opposed to racism in any form and oppose any solution that relies on racial percentages. Racism, in any form, seeks to lift one group up by keeping another down. That is true regardless of the goal and the good intentions of the oppressor.

Written by Michael Turk