Educational leadership chair sees Supreme Court ruling damaging diverse education

AMES, Iowa -- Last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring two school desegregation plans as unconstitutional is a serious blow to educational diversity, says the chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University.

Professor Laura Rendón said that while the decision may not have reversed the Court's 2003 ruling upholding the right of colleges to use affirmative action in admissions, it made segregation far more likely.

"At a time when the racial segregation of students in schools is increasing, the Supreme Court decision to strike down programs that consider race in students' school assignments virtually crushes the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka goal of eliminating racially separate public schools," said Rendón.

"More than 50 years after Brown, the American educational system still suffers from segregated, separate and unequal schooling," she added.

Rendón reports that the UCLA Civil Rights Project found that African-American and Latino students are disproportionately concentrated in predominantly minority schools where more than half of the students are non-white.

"Because of disparities in state funding and benign neglect, these racially isolated minority schools often lack basic educational resources such as highly-qualified teachers, well-stocked libraries, advanced classes, up-to-date laboratories and cutting-edge educational technology," she said.

"Moreover, a fairly extensive body of research now documents that learning in integrated, diverse settings matters in very significant ways," she continued. "Students become more engaged as they learn from and stimulate each other's world views. Perspectives can be broadened and critical thinking and leadership skills can be enhanced. When white students learn only with other white students and when Latinos and African Americans learn only in racially segregated schools, one thing is assured: All students are harmed when diverse learning opportunities are denied."

Rendón authored a commissioned paper last fall for the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative titled "Reconceptualizing Success for Underserved Students in Higher Education." You may read it here.