DECEMBER 06, 2011
To “reduce racial isolation among students,” the Obama Administration has issued official guidelines to promote diversity in the nation’s public education system by, among other things, blending the rich with the poor.
A district with two elementary schools—one with a large enrollment of students from households with “higher than average annual incomes” and the other with a population of kids from “lower than average annual incomes”—should mix pupils, according to the new guidelines.
This will help achieve racial diversity and ultimately prevent “racial isolation,” the administration claims. A joint venture between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Education (DOE), the guidelines are expected to be implemented by the nation’s elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities that receive taxpayer dollars.
Educators are encouraged to consider a student’s race in “carefully constructed” plans to promote diversity or reduce racial isolation, which is far too common and increasing in America’s classroom’s, according to Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The racial isolation has bred “educational inequity,” Duncan says, adding that this is inconsistent with America’s core values.
Besides, diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, says Attorney General Eric Holder. The new guidelines his agency helped craft will aid educational institutions in their efforts to provide “true equality of opportunity,” Holder assures.
Let’s take a quick look at the guidelines for elementary and secondary schools, which are referred to as K-12 because they go from kindergarten to 12th grade. First off, they let schools off the hook by saying that districts are required to use “race-neutral approaches only if they are workable.” Assuming that they are not “workable,” the administration is pushing drawing new attendance boundaries, grade realignment and a restructuring of feeder patterns.
The postsecondary guidelines aren’t much different and encourage colleges to consider race in admissions, recruitment, mentoring, tutoring and retention programs. As a “race-neutral” approach (when workable), the DOE and DOJ suggest considering students’ socioeconomic status. Regardless, diversity must be attained because “postsecondary institutions play a unique role in opening doors for all segments of American society, including people of all races and ethnicities.”
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