It has been seven years since Parents Involved in Community Schools, a nonprofit organization made up of diverse parents and community members...
It has been seven years since Parents Involved in Community Schools, a nonprofit organization made up of diverse parents and community members, sued the Seattle School District to stop discrimination against our children.
We told the School District in 2000 that the use of the race of a student to decide to assign our ninth-graders to a high school was illegal, unconstitutional, immoral and just plain wrong.
Our children were denied entrance to certain high schools because of their skin color, and both nonwhite and white children were affected by this racist policy.
The Seattle schools have never been segregated; they are currently integrated and the use of the so-called racial tiebreaker is not necessary. Our children just wanted to attend school along with their peers and to maintain friendships.
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It is difficult enough being a teenager in our fast-paced world without being forced to go to a school you don’t want to go to, just because you have the “wrong” skin color. Our children are faced with so many more choices at an early age, which makes parenting much more difficult today than a generation ago. When you are a single parent, or a parent without a car, and your child is going to a school that is up to two hours away by public transportation, it is extremely difficult to stay involved in your child’s education.
In Seattle’s case, the high schools have different curricula and certain schools are not a good academic fit for a particular learning style. The use of the racial tiebreaker, for some kids, was emotionally and academically damaging.
A parent knows better than a school bureaucracy where his or her child will be successful. Our children are not numbers or chess pieces to be moved around for the sake of political correctness. They are unique individuals, and should not be classified as being part of a collective, in this instance, race, as if that were their only value to society.
The Seattle School District, along with every other school district in America, rightly teaches its students that discrimination is wrong and that we do not judge people by the color of their skin. How can our schools teach this lesson and then turn around and discriminate against our children by telling them that they can’t go to a particular school because they have the “wrong” skin color?
They cannot have it both ways. Our school boards cannot discriminate sometimes because they think the end justifies the means. That was the logic they used for separate but equal facilities before 1954. Was not Brown vs. Board of Education about making sure that children were not denied access to a school based solely on skin color? The U.S. Constitution is here for all of us, not some of us.
This case started in Seattle and now has impacted every school district in the nation.
All children in America deserve access to a good neighborhood public school so that they and their parents can easily be involved in after-school activities like sports, tutoring, fundraising, clubs, etc.
We are relieved and vindicated by the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. Let us now focus all of our energy and resources on improving all of our schools and increasing parental involvement in our community schools across America.
Kathleen Brose is president of Parents Involved In Community Schools of Seattle. PICS challenged the Seattle School District’s use of a racial tiebreaker in school assignments and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favor on June 28.