Friday, January 30, 2009

"...the ugly specter of racial inequality... I like that!


Mrs. Nicole Edler addressed Judge Engelhardt with this excellent and compelling treatise on the need to really care about the attorney's efforts to divide the parish. I was there, you would have been proud:




Good Morning,Your Honor:

I applaud this court in its attempt to put an end to the ugly specter of racial inequality and segregation in our schools. However, racial demographic documentation presented to this court has shown that the Jefferson Parish School Board and the plaintiffs have crafted a plan that will in fact lead to resegregation and further isolationism of black and white students in Jefferson Parish. As Dr. Roussel affirmed to this court on Dec. 14th, 75% of minority students in Jefferson Parish reside on the west bank. Only 25% of African American students reside on the east bank. “Assigning” students to a magnet school on the side of the river of their residence will advance segregation and geographical discrimination of the west bank and the students that reside there. This suggests an attempt by the litigants in this case to reinstitute a dual system, a system which this court has attempted to abolish for over 40 years.

The supportive documentation confirms that the east bank’s court-approved ratio of black to white students (+/- 15%) is significantly lower than the black/white percentage range declared acceptable by this court for the west bank. The disparity is evidenced by the differences in the housing patterns on the west bank, which is more racially diverse, less affluent and more African-American.

However, as they proclaimed in 1971, the Jefferson Parish School Board once again contends that the disparity in the races and the separation of the parish by the river is an inevitable “product of voluntary housing patterns”, a justification which was not accepted by the court in 1972 as an excuse to promote racism, and one which should not be accepted today by this court. The school board seeks permission by this court to “assign” students to magnet schools where the student population on one side of the river may be disproportionately of one race, while ignoring the racial implications and consequences therein. This flies in the face of desegregation, and circumvents the intent of this court and our constitution.

Swann v. Mecklenburg placed the burden on school authorities to show that one race schools are "genuinely nondiscriminatory." Closing the river to crossing magnet students will, in fact, risk the eventual return of “one-race” magnet schools. Allowing students to access magnet schools on both sides of the river encourages racial, socio-economic, religious, and cultural diversity in our magnet schools. In 1971, the district court found that the only evidence presented by the School Board to justify the presence of 19 one race schools "was an allusion to housing patterns." Today, the school board would have this court separate the parish by the river and thus “assign” students to a magnet school based on their geographical residency. What the school board fails to publically acknowledge is that, in conceding that most African-American students reside on the west bank, and would therefore be “assigned” to west bank magnet schools, they are, in fact, intentionally or not, promoting segregation, while attempting to use the Mississippi River as a dividing rod. Forty years later, it still smacks of racism. Just because it may not be spelled out clearly or outwardly spoken, it does not mean that the intent is lost on the public. Our constitution does not allow us to turn a blind eye to racism, be it overt or subtle. It does not allow us to claim ignorance of its existence.

Your Honor: Magnet schools promote natural desegregation, which is the justified and noble objective of this court. Please do not allow the Jefferson Parish School Board to “assign” students to our magnet schools, thereby limiting and/or suppressing desegregation. Please do not allow them to separate our school system by the Mississippi River, which will most certainly attempt to circumvent the honorable intent of the 14th Amendment to our constitution. The magnet school plan, in its current form, is patently unfair.

Brown v. Board of Education stated that: “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”. The courts did not agree that educational facilities should be “substantially equal to the extent feasible”, as the school board has suggested. We are one parish. It is time that we started behaving like one. It is time to end the dual system.

Thank you.

1 comment:

marry said...

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