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Volume 23, Number 6
November/December 2007

Voluntary Integration

Two Views


Carol Swain: "Just Make Our Schools Better"

Carol Swain, an African American professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, attended segregated schools as a child under the U.S. Supreme Court Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which held that racially separate schools were constitutional as long as they were equal. She is one of the first to admit that for her, separate wasn’t so bad. “It was the unequal part that was the problem,” she says. So she views the Court’s recent decision on two voluntary race-based integration plans through a different lens. As far as she’s concerned, it’s time to stop trying so hard to integrate.

“The schools aren’t resegregating. They’re resegregated,” she says. “The vast majority of African American and minority children are stuck in segregated schools. There just aren’t enough white children in the neighborhood to integrate them. So my advice to school districts now is, ‘Stop moaning and get to the task.’ We need to regroup. I agree with Clarence Thomas that segregated doesn’t have to be inferior. We have to focus our energies on doing whatever it takes to make our schools better.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


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