Phi Beta Cons

Balancing Act

Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases from Seattle and Louisville that call into question the constitutionality of school assignment policies that aim at racial balancing.
Besides the usual nonsense about “educational benefits of diversity,” an argument that has been floated in defense of these policies is “academic freedom.”  Lawyer Lawrence White tries to make it sound plausible in this piece in the current Chronicle Review (subscriber site).
Assuming for the sake of argument that courts should grant deference to the decisions of college officials as to the students they choose to admit, that is a long, long way from deferring to public school bureaucrats in their assignment of children to schools they must attend.  Come to think of it, school officials in segregated states in the 1950s could have made exactly the same plea: “We know what’s educationally best for everyone, so don’t interfere with our freedom.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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