Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pulaski County deseg

The Arkansas legislature will be looking at a proposal to entice the North Little Rock and Pulaski County districts to seek “unitary” status in the long-running desegregation case. That would mean an end to federal court supervision and, possibly, an end to substantial state payments to the three districts for such things as magnet schools.

The bill is a good idea and, if you don’t mind, I have a bit of background. It would be helpful to understand that the court is not just meddling around. The districts and the state reached a settlement and imposed it upon themselves. Although things are far from perfect, minority students are about as well off as might be expected under the circumstances. What everybody ought to hope for is that, once districts are relived of court oversight, they will spend more resources on basic education.

One would also hope that, as public schools improve, white parents regain some confidence in the schools. That will take time. The other thing you need to know is that John Walker, the famous civil rights attorney representing minority children, is not a bad man. His only fault is that he is fighting a battle that was decided thirty years ago.

Let’s get the districts out of court and teaching full speed ahead.

(Broadcast March 12, 2007)

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