Friday, June 03, 2005

Stop the Forced Busing Madness

After years of forcing thousands of Asian-American (most of Chinese heritage) students to attend schools outside of their neighborhoods, the San Francisco public schools (SFUSD) are now under the scrutiny of a federal judge charged with overseeing its decades-long desegregation efforts. The official, U.S. District Judge William Alsup, has reached the following startling conclusions:

1) Parents buy homes in a particular community with the expectation that their children will be attending neighborhood schools

2) Parents who mark "Chinese" as the "primary language spoken at home" on their SFUSD Diversity Index forms are usually Chinese

3) Local neighborhoods within school districts tend to be populated by people with similar socio-economic backgrounds

5) Children coming from intact families, whose parents place a priority on their educational progress, have higher grades and test scores than children without these attributes

6) When white students completely leave a school district they once dominated, some other ethnic group becomes the majority, and the school becomes "resegregated" by definition

Finally, someone in San Francisco has the common sense to state the obvious, but in this case Judge Alsup only gets it half right (from the San Francisco Examiner):

The student-assignment system currently used to diversify San Francisco's public schools was called a "well-intentioned, but wasted effort that didn't do the job," according to the federal judge now overseeing the district's desegregation efforts.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup made the comments in court Thursday as the district updated the court on its progress toward meeting the goals of a 1983 legal settlement that has required the district to work toward integrating schools and increasing the academic achievement for the district's minority students.

The current system uses a "diversity index" that takes into account a student's socioeconomic background but does not consider race. [editor's note - The diversity index does consider the primary language spoken at home, a question that is asked of all students in San Francisco.] It is the result of a subsequent lawsuit in 1999 by Chinese-American parents who said their children were being denied the opportunity to go to popular schools due to their race.

In recent months, the board has been reviewing several alternative ideas to the diversity index, three proposed by a community task force and another from first-year [school] board member Norman Yee. However, the district's lawyers informed the judge Thursday that two school desegregation experts had been retained and were prepared to review all existing ideas as well as present new options.
Yes, what an utter waste of time, attention, effort and money this whole desegregation effort has been, to the detriment of all students and Asian-American students in particular. "Well-intentioned", my ass. The government and judges have no business micromanaging the racial make-up of the public school system. And if the school board can't find something more worthy of their attention than this, they should disband and find something useful to do. Meanwhile, minority kids (re: Black and Hispanic) are still underperforming in San Francisco schools after decades of this nonsense, and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been flushed down the toilet.

In the end, this misguided diversity policy has only served to empty the San Francisco public schools of students, white ones in particular. San Francisco now has the smallest share of school-age children of any major U.S. city. Just 14.5% of the city's population is 18 and under, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the public school population, only 9.3% of students identify themselves as white.

Judge Alsup, just do us all a favor and let San Francisco kids go to their neighborhood schools, just like in the Oakland suburb where you live.


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