Forced diversity does not solve school quality issue

Forced segregation is not, nor has it ever been, the same thing as desegregation. This may not be something those opposed to the recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding two desegregation plans would like to admit, but is true nonetheless.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines desegregation as “opening (a school or workplace, for example) to members of all races or ethnic groups, especially by force of law.” This definition in no way includes diversity quotas which lead to the ejection of students based on the color of their skin, but such events have been caused by the racial balancing plans in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. school systems, according to an article in Friday’s St. Petersburg Times. Chief Justice John Roberts, when defending his decision to end such plans, expressed this concept well when he said, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

This decision has sparked concern for local school officials, who are struggling to establish policies that will encourage diversity. Current plans call for students to be assigned to schools close to their homes, which will lead to several schools becoming heavily weighted to a single race. In Hillsborough County, where such plans were adopted three years ago, 35 schools last school year would be considered racially unbalanced according to former guidelines.

School officials may want to consider, however, that such racial balancing is not the true issue facing today’s students. The root of the problem is the financial imbalance of educational facilities, as many parents struggle to enroll their children in “good” schools.

Resolving that issue is simple, though not easy: Ensure that all schools are, in fact, good. To do so would require arranging equality of funding throughout state education systems. Instead of financing being based on locale, each school would be allotted a set amount of funding for each enrolled student. Additionally, schools that have suffered from years of neglect would receive additional funds to bring them up to par.

Such a plan, of course, would have to overcome numerous obstacles. It would require significant oversight to determine criteria for such additional funds. It would also face resistance from those who would argue that their tax dollars should not be used to assist other districts.

These obstacles and others sure to arise should be faced and overcome, however, for the same reason such an argument is ill-founded: Quality education for all benefits, quite simply, everyone.