A bill has passed the Kentucky GOP-controlled House of Representatives that would effectively re-segregate schools in the largest district of Kentucky if it passes the Senate.
House Bill 151 would allow kids to go to schools closest to their home. This bill completely eliminates the desegregation efforts that have kept the schools in Jefferson County diverse.
Chris Kolb, a member of the Jefferson County school board, who opposes the bill, said, “This is a bill that will resegregate our schools, taking us back to the ’60s and ’70s.” “This will be the death of integration.”
Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville) called the bill “shameful and shocking.”
According to the Washington Post, the bill would impact other counties, but not as much as Jefferson County, which has about 101,000 students and over half would be moved to a school closest to their home.
“Under the guise of ‘neighborhood schools’ they seek to take us back to the land of alleged separate but equal schools, which was held unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954,”Raoul Cunningham, Louisville NAACP president, wrote in a letter.
Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, typically as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s — back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.
In 2007, even after the Supreme Court ruled against desegregation efforts that account for race in admissions/transfer decisions, Jefferson County decided to keep desegregating. In a 2015 article, the Atlantic explained why:
Currently, the district puts schools in “clusters,” which are groups of diverse neighborhoods. Parents fill out an application listing their preferences for certain schools in the cluster, and the district assigns students to certain schools in order to achieve diversity goals. It does this by ranking census blocks on a number of factors, including the percentage minority residents, the educational attainment of adults, and household income, and mixing up students from various blocks. Parents can appeal the school assignments, but have no guarantee of getting their top choice. They can also apply for magnet schools and special programs such as Spanish-language immersion.
State Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher (R) who sponsored the bill believes that there are things that kids are giving up in order for schools to be desegregated. He claims that it is harder for kids to join extracurricular activities and for parents to make it to PTA meetings and teacher conferences because of the distance of the school.
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