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Thursday, June 28, 2007

SCOTUS to Seattle Schools: Nope

posted by on June 28 at 7:44 AM

US Supreme Court tosses Seattle’s race-based tie breaker.

My advice to Seattle Schools: Class-based tie breaker.

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I myself have wondered for a long time why family income cannot be used as a proxy for race in affirmative action. Reasons: 1) Much less controversial, as it can't be dismissed as reverse racism; 2) Should actually address the issue, since there is a strong association between race and income level; 3) also, will be more effective, since it will more directly help students in need. This does not address the specific Seattle School situation, but I'm talking about in general, for colleges, etc.

Posted by Jude Fawley | June 28, 2007 8:04 AM

I agree, financial need should be the tiebreaker.

Posted by elswinger | June 28, 2007 8:46 AM

I agree with the class idea, and have long thought something like that needed to be implemented.

However, race is still a barrier in this country, no matter how much money your parents have. Dual tiebreakers? That would suit me. Not that the Supreme Court asked.

Posted by bitch on heels | June 28, 2007 8:51 AM

Good advice, Josh, and I don't think you'd see any resistance to it in the community.

Posted by Sean | June 28, 2007 9:07 AM

An income system might look good... but then the question becomes one of a threshold. Would a child whose parents make a combined income of $60k yr have more of an “in” then the child of a single parent who makes $60k yr? or $40k, $30k, $100k? What about siblings… a child with more brothers and sisters (trends towards) living in a household where less money per child is available and spent then in households with few children.

How would the obligatory rich vs. poor child be dealt with fairly? Rich child = presumed lots of options for their life = rich child is screwed, go to a different school? Poor child = presumed less options for their life = poor child is “in” their first choice school?

Seattle needs to return to a geography based system… the closer a child lives to a school, the more of a “guaranteed in” they would have. Of course, after a decade or so of sky-rocketing real estate, rental-to-condo conversions, school closures, and wishy-washy WASL policies, a return to a geography based system will pretty much be a de facto income system. The neighborhoods across the board in Seattle simply lack parity for income level representation. Lower-income folks just can’t afford to live inside the city. But it would look like a “blind” system alright on paper, at least.

Sardonically, a simple "blind" first-come-first-served, siblings and returning students get priority, no waiting list, enrollment opens on such-and-such date, get in line with everyone else, would be the best system. But that sound too democratically fair, too “we are all equal regardless of parental income/ parental education/ parental social standing/ affordability of close-in geography/ heritage race” for it to be palatable for most Americans around Seattle.

Folks at the upper income levels already feel entitled to having the best money can buy (and why not they think without any second thoughts, I (presume that) work harder than other folks, so I (presume that) I deserve a bigger reward for me and my own children) for a true first-come, first-served system to work without the deluge of lawsuits which would follow.

Posted by Phenics | June 28, 2007 9:10 AM

@3 The class based tie breaker is definitely a much better solution. I refused to put my race/ethnicity down on college apps because I knew it would give me an advantage I didn't need, since my grades and extra curricular activities were excellent. After all, my father is a wealthy man, so I knew no material deprivation, and he was a wealthy Hispanic man in a town so well integrated that I didn't think racism could happen against Hispanics, at least not in a way more insulting than the casual jokes people make about Irish or Italians. I didn't experience real racism until I moved to Seattle, and it's never been the kind that would have held me back. Now, if I'd been poor, I think it would have been a different story.

Posted by Gitai | June 28, 2007 9:15 AM

Good advice, comrades. Let us punish those who have worked to earn their success.

Posted by adam smith | June 28, 2007 9:40 AM

adam@7: children have worked hard for their success? when entering elementary school?

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 10:01 AM

Beyond the debate over tiebreakers, I'd like to know why the district is spending time/money continuing their claim that they need to figure out how to close the achivement gap, when they alread have a weighted student formula to spread money to students based on need.

In theory, students at T.T. Minor receive more funding than students at Laurlehurst. And yet, after more than 5 years on a Sloan grant, T.T. Minor was put on the chopping block as a possible closure. SPS backed off on this plan, but when you look deeper you see a school district that can't even balance a budget, much less make every school equal. Why?

The time and money spent to argue this case could have been spent elsewhere. Like buying a clue that in present society, equity really is all about the money.

Posted by Eudora | June 28, 2007 10:28 AM

Race and class, class and race. Often go hand in hand, no? The goal here was not "preferential treatment" for minority students; rather, it was to INTEGRATE schools so that children of all races could experience each other in a classroom setting. Interacting with people of different socio-economic status is important for us to understand and empathize with people who are unlike us, certainly, so why is it not ok to say the same thing about race?

Posted by AHiro | June 28, 2007 11:19 AM

@10 Mainly because good liberals (and even some conservatives) like to talk a good game about a colorblind society, racial equality, and all that, but when it comes to their kids, it's fuck society, advancing our nation as a whole and all that, cause my kid's gotta have every advantage possible.

Posted by Gitai | June 28, 2007 11:33 AM

Oh, they'll use a class based tiebreaker, except they'll tilt it the wrong way.

I agree that they need to regionalize the zoning for schools instead of letting people pick and choose. Then when a well to do middle class white family who chooses to buy a home in Rainier Beach can't just send their kids to a white school uptown, and they're forced to deal with the problems of lesser funded schools firsthand, we'll see the city actually do something about the disparity once the inevitable squawking begins.

Posted by Gomez | June 28, 2007 11:36 AM

I don't think regionalizing would work. By in large, the neighbourhoods have class, too.

Posted by stiletto | June 28, 2007 11:51 AM

How about just making it all a big lottery? Luck and mathematical probabilities know no racism or classism.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 28, 2007 12:01 PM

Washington is an open enrollment state - parents can enroll their children pretty much anywhere they want to and school districts are limited on the controls they can put in place.

The real tie-breaker is parental involvement, and this time the involved parent happened to be pissed off enough to file a lawsuit.

Posted by Soupytwist | June 28, 2007 12:17 PM

@7 Even in a shitty school, the rich children will be better off. Their parents can afford to subsidize their childrens' education by paying for private tutoring, educational summer camps, test prep, and the rest.

Their presence will likely assist the poor childrens' education some though, since they can chip in on fundraisers that benefit the school as a whole.

Posted by Gitai | June 28, 2007 3:37 PM

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