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The Politics of Diversity: Integration in an Era of Political and Legal Uncertainty


by Sarah Diem & Erica Frankenberg - 2013

Background: The demographic landscape in the United States has shifted dramatically since Brown v. Board of Education, leading to more complex diversity in many school districts than the diversity contemplated nearly 60 years ago. Desegregation research has shown that countywide districts are better able to maintain diverse schools, have less White flight where enclaves do not exist, and maintain political support for high-quality, equitable schools in ways very different from the politics that exist in metropolitan areas in which city schools are separate from neighboring suburbs. While demographic diversity may provide an advantage in accomplishing integration (or allow for the possibility), as court oversight for desegregation fades, it is unclear whether the advantage of countywide districts will persist if this diversity results in more political opposition to pursuing voluntary integration.

Purpose: This article explores the diversity policies and politics of two countywide school districts in the South experiencing enclave growth at a time of legal and political ambiguity: Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and the Wake County Public Schools System (WCPSS). Both districts’ voluntary desegregation efforts have been highly publicized as they are increasingly being affected by changing demographics and local politics. In this article, we seek to analyze how demographic change influences public support for and implementation of the districts’ diversity policies. We also examine how political debates around diversity have shifted in response to the changing legal context and enclave formation in both districts.

Data Collection and Analysis: Data collection in our two case study sites focuses on similar variables in each. As this article focuses on our initial investigation of the two school districts, laying the groundwork for our future empirical research, our analysis is primarily based on data collected from each school district’s website describing the diversity policies, demographic data trends within the district and community, as well as information on school board representation. We also used publicly available data from local, state, and federal data sources, including the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census, media articles from local newspapers (The Courier-Journal in Louisville and The News & Observer in Raleigh), legal documents such as court filings, and policy documents from the district. Through the document analysis, at each site we examined: (1) activities by district or community leaders to promote policies aimed at maintaining diversity; (2) any legal action and/or response affecting diversity policies, particularly the development of new suburban enclaves; and (3) past, present, and projected effects of diversity policies.

Conclusions: Whether JCPS and WCPSS are able to achieve diversity in a time of political and legal uncertainty has yet to be determined. As demographics change, enclave schools and communities increase, politics and policymaking become more and more influenced by politically savvy parents, and the future of diversity plans remains uncertain. However, the case for and benefits of integration may be clearer than ever. The question that remains is, to what depths are school districts willing to go to establish and maintain diverse environments that are key to achieving equity of opportunity for all students.

The last half-century has witnessed great strides toward racial equality, but we have not yet realized the promise of Brown. To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown. The plurality's position, I fear, would break that promise. This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret.


–Justice Breyer’s dissent, Parents Involved, p. 2837


Since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, the path of school desegregation can best be described as a series of successes amid a range of challenges in achieving equal educational opportunity for all, threatening the very heart of the pivotal decision. Indeed, the intended effect of Brown has failed to be fully realized as school desegregation policies have faced, and continue to face, enormous political obstacles in local communities (Wells, Holme, Atanda, & Revilla, 2005). Further, since Brown only ordered states and school districts to implement desegregation plans “with all deliberate speed,” (Brown v. Board of Education II, 1955) the value of desegregation for Black students and families came into question as desegregation became synonymous with quality, while all-Black schools were in actuality providing many more benefits to Black students, families, and communities (Morris, 2008). Post-Brown, questions also arose as to the value of busing students of color into White schools where many were marginalized, disproportionately disciplined, and tracked into lower-level courses. Today, some Blacks believe that further marginalization of Black students within racially integrated schools can be prevented by establishing Black-controlled neighborhood schools (Morris, 2008). What’s more, the demographic landscape has shifted dramatically since Brown, leading to more complex diversity in many school districts than the diversity contemplated nearly 60 years ago.


The legal limiting of Brown began just 20 years after the Supreme Court ruled that separate was inherently unequal in public schools. In a case regarded as the turning point in desegregation efforts because it limited the extent of desegregation remedies for the first time since Brown, Milliken v. Bradley (1974) blocked efforts for interdistrict, city–suburban desegregation remedies as a means to integrate racially isolated city schools except in rare circumstances. The ruling effectively closed the door on school districts’ ability to include students from adjacent, heavily White suburbs in order to integrate city districts with large minority populations, thus making real desegregation nearly impossible in a growing number of minority cities and homogeneous White suburbs (Orfield & Eaton, 1996). Milliken is a reason that existing levels of segregation and isolation occurring between school districts and the resegregation of public schools are higher than those at the time of the ruling (Clotfelter, 2004; Orfield, 2009). Residential segregation is slowly declining, but continues to exist as Whites predominately live in neighborhoods where the majority of the population is White while Blacks and Latinos live in neighborhoods with high levels of minorities and few White neighbors. This is due, in part, to different racial residential preferences among groups (e.g., Whites are comfortable with fewer other-race neighbors than other groups) and in part due to continuing discrimination existing in the housing market. The typical White person today lives in a neighborhood that is 75% White, Asians live in neighborhoods that are 49% White, and Latinos and Blacks live in neighborhoods that are only 35% White (Logan & Stults, 2011). Today, approximately 73% of Black and 78% of Latino students attend schools where the majority of their peers are minority students. White students, the most segregated group, attend schools where 77% of the enrollment is White (Orfield, 2009).


However, countywide districts, where disparate demographic groups are contained within one district, may be the exception to the rule as these districts, in theory, are better able to maintain diverse schools (Orfield, 2001), have less White flight, and possess political support for diversity policies in ways very different from the politics that exist in metro areas in which city schools are separate from neighboring suburbs (Clotfelter, 2004; Diem, 2012; Ryan, 2010). Countywide school districts encompass many more schools, which may help to distribute demand so that popular schools do not become quickly oversubscribed and White or middle-class to upper-middle-class parents demand more than one school in the district, thus avoiding the potential loss of political support of the diversity policy (when districts permit family choice in student assignment). Related, as demographic change occurs in metropolitan areas across the country, countywide districts often maintain substantial percentages of White and non-White residents, in contrast to more fragmented, municipal jurisdictions in which districts are a small part of the metro and highly vulnerable to rapid transition.1 While demographic diversity may provide an advantage in accomplishing integration (or allow for the possibility of such), as court oversight for desegregation fades, it is unclear whether the advantage of countywide districts will persist if this diversity results in more political opposition to pursuing voluntary integration.


In this article, we examine two countywide school districts in the South that, around the same time as Milliken, were created through mergers of city and county districts: Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) (Louisville, Kentucky) and the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) (Raleigh, North Carolina). Indeed, the countywide configuration of districts like JCPS and WCPSS generally makes integration more feasible (Orfield, 2001). However, after years of successful integration and amid demographic change in each district, both of these districts’ diversity efforts are being increasingly tested. Further, the environments in which the policies exist—the legality of the policies being contested in federal courts and the politics at the local level—are becoming more ambiguous.


Our analysis of JCPS and WCPSS focuses on how the demographic change occurring within these two school districts and communities, including the creation of suburban enclaves juxtaposed with central cities overwhelmingly comprised of low-income students of color, influences public support for diversity policies and, ultimately, the implementation of such policies. The implementation of these policies is particularly important to study since the acceptance and support of the policies within these two communities may serve as a policy feedback loop that would influence political will for the continuation of the policies. We begin the article by examining the changing legal context of desegregation policies, the role of diversity in current federal policymaking, and how the relationship between demographic change and politics can impact the support for equity policies. We then present the Jefferson County and Wake County cases, and conclude with a discussion on lessons learned across both districts.


DESEGREGATION POLICIES IN A SHIFTING LEGAL LANDSCAPE


Since the Brown (1954) decision outlawing state-mandated separate schools for Black and White children, school desegregation has played a pivotal role in efforts to provide an equal educational opportunity for all children. Brown (1954) was crucial in moving forward the policy discourse surrounding educational equity issues by enabling school districts to provide opportunities for all students to achieve academically (Pitre, 2009). The ruling is regarded as the impetus for many federally sponsored and educational programs focused on educational equity, affirmative action, and multiculturalism (Valverde, 2004), as well as providing a springboard for other groups demanding equal rights such as women, the disabled, and so forth. However, while Brown (1954) and court-ordered desegregation reflected the major focus of educational policy for nearly two decades, from its inception, it has been highly politicized and faced many social and legal challenges in its implementation (Brown, 1994; Orfield & Eaton, 1996). It was only with the passage of federal legislation in the mid-1960s and serious enforcement action under the Johnson Administration that large numbers of Black students in the South began to attend majority-White schools (Orfield, 1969).


The central issue in the Court’s most recent ruling on school desegregation, Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) (hereafter referred to as PICS), addressed whether public schools should be allowed to voluntarily integrate, which is ironic given that nearly 60 years ago the central tension in the Brown (1954) decision was whether or not public schools should be required to integrate. The two school districts involved in the case both had implemented student assignment policies that were voluntary in nature and aimed at eliminating segregation and improving equity of opportunity for all students (Britt, 2008). Continuing a recent trend of federal judicial decisions hesitant about governmental use of race, Chief Justice Roberts stated in PICS (2007), “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race” (p. 2768). The colorblind approach to integration Chief Justice Roberts and the Court plurality articulated in its ruling has made it more difficult for districts to design and implement policies that seek to avoid racial isolation and segregation within their boundaries (see generally Frankenberg & DeBray, 2011). This is particularly concerning in school districts experiencing major demographic shifts as the policy tools that were once available to address many of these challenges are becoming more restricted by the courts.


PICS was the latest evidence that the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence is growing increasingly unsympathetic toward efforts made by school districts to create and maintain racially integrated settings (Boger, 2011). Shifting from a race-based to a race-neutral stance, the Court has allowed school districts to be released from court-ordered desegregation decrees regardless if compliance has been met or any levels of sustainable desegregation have occurred. Even voluntary efforts like the ones undertaken by the two districts in the PICS case that were once required by the courts to promote racial integration and equal access are now legally vulnerable (Le, 2011; Wells, Duran, & White, 2008). This difference between the central issues in education policies regarding the ability to use race-conscious, mandatory efforts to promote integration to race-neutral, voluntary efforts—from Brown (1954) to Milliken (1974), and now in PICS (2007)—exemplifies the changing role of the Court and, therefore, the changing legal tools and political opportunities/constraints educators have available to them in trying to prevent an increase in segregation and promote educational equity in their schools.


Immediately following the PICS ruling, the federal government did very little in terms of providing guidance to school districts on how to pursue diversity through student assignment plans (Le, 2010). The PICS decision was highly confusing (while striking down the two plans, the Court also confirmed the importance of the goals of such plans) and school districts were not sure how to interpret it, leaving school boards to question whether their plans were legal. It took over a year after the ruling for the Bush Administration to advise school districts and higher education institutions to pursue diversity through race-neutral means, and when they did, they restrictively interpreted the goals and the means available for districts (Le, 2010). If race remained one of the factors used in their diversity policies, would districts survive potential lawsuits questioning methods of student assignment and/or the political discussion that might accompany even winning the lawsuit? Exploring what policies were both legal and effective required a fair amount of risk on the part of local school boards.2 Particularly in the year immediately after the decision, there was heightened concern that districts would be challenged (McDermott, DeBray, & Frankenberg, 2012).


The record under the Obama Administration has been mixed. Although Congressional authorization began during the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration has implemented the Technical Assistance for Student Assignment Plans (TASAP) program, which offered grants to 11 school districts for technical assistance to redesign student assignment to comply with PICS. Likewise, through other grant programs, such as the Magnet Schools Assistance Program and Charter Schools Program, the Obama Administration has more tightly coupled funding priorities with reducing racial isolation and promoting integration. Yet, it took the Obama Administration almost three years to rescind the Bush Administration’s response to PICS, allowing crucial time to pass when, instead of developing alternative desegregation plans or abandoning their efforts to maintain integrated schools, school districts could have kept their existing plans or implemented new plans that had race as a core factor in their efforts to achieve diversity (Siegel-Hawley & Frankenberg, 2011). On December 2, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice jointly issued guidance documents to both higher education and PK-12 institutions on how to “lawfully pursue voluntary policies to achieve diversity or avoid racial isolation within the framework of Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and current case law” (Ali & Perez, 2011, n.p.). The elementary and secondary education guidance document details the flexibility the Supreme Court provided to educational institutions in the PICS ruling and explicitly provides examples of how school districts may permissibly consider race in their policymaking, including student assignment.


Preliminary research assessing the impact of PICS suggests the ruling triggered a variety of political and legal responses in school districts (McDermott et al., 2012). Legally, after an immediate post-PICS period in which race-conscious policies were abandoned due to threat of legal action, districts (except for Louisville, as discussed below) have not faced legal challenges invoking PICS. Politically, effects of the decision seem to have shifted policymaking to prioritize stability, cautiousness, and choice over diversity. This and other research demonstrates that even where a policy may not be directly implicated by the Supreme Court’s decision, policies (or perceived constraints on local policies, as in the PICS decision) can affect politics, in addition to policies simply being the outcome of political mobilization (Hacker, 1998; Pierson, 2004). This may be particularly likely in a politicized arena such as school desegregation in which local districts have adopted policies for decades in a broader context of federal and state policymaking.


DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE & POLITICS


As the Supreme Court’s role has shifted in regards to desegregation so, too, has the demographic make-up of public schools, thereby complicating the notion of what “desegregation” means. There are two macro trends that may affect educational politics: (1) the overall enrollment—and population, to a lesser extent—is becoming more diverse; and (2) school-level (and neighborhood-level) demographic patterns reveal persisting levels of racial and economic segregation.


CHANGING SCHOOL DEMOGRAPHICS


According to the U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 Condition of Education Report, from 1989 to 2009, the percentage of White students enrolled in public schools decreased dramatically from 68% to 55% while the percentage of Black students remained relatively the same, decreasing slightly from 17% to 15% of the total public school enrollment. Notably, the percentage of Hispanic students in public schools doubled during this same period from 11% to 22%, surpassing Black student enrollment (Aud et al., 2011). These numbers are expected to continue to shift due to higher birth rates among minority groups, immigration, and the overall age structure of the U.S. population (Orfield, Kuscera, & Siegel-Hawley, 2012). Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools is projected to increase 25% for Hispanic students and 1% for Black students by the year 2020, while the number of White students is expected to decrease by 1% during this same period (Hussar & Bailey, 2011). One of the regions that recently saw the most rapid increase in Hispanic students has been the South, which is also the region with the highest share of Black students. In 2010, Blacks comprised 26% of the enrollment and Latinos comprised more than 23% of the South’s public school enrollment; Latinos actually outnumber Blacks when looking at the racial composition of the South’s younger students (e.g., first graders) (Siegel-Hawley & Frankenberg, 2012).


During the Civil Rights Era, when many of the desegregation plans were originally adopted, Hispanic students were relatively few in most districts that were required to adopt such policies and, as a result, most policies were biracial in nature, focusing on desegregating White & Black students, primarily. By the time the Supreme Court acknowledged the right for Latinos to desegregate in 1973, the period of active enforcement and expansion of desegregation had ended. Yet, the overall growth of the minority population and the increased complexity of minority groups with different historical experiences with desegregation policies are likely to affect both the design of voluntary integration policies and the politics in local communities given the new multiracial diversity of the community and changes in the way “diversity” or “integration” are framed.


Indeed, one of the first analyses of political responses to the PICS decision found that one common response in local districts was to create a more complex definition of diversity in place of a tradition biracial notion (Siegel-Hawley & Frankenberg, 2011). Earlier work as part of an Urban Civic Capacity study found the ending of desegregation decrees, which had been framed as a Black/White issue, brought new groups to discussions of equity in several urban districts studied (Clarke, Hero, Sidney, Fraga, & Erlichson, 2006). Nonetheless the ultimate outcome of these “multiracial moments” in each community studied by Clarke and colleagues was movement away from equity policies.


RESEGREGATION OF SCHOOLS & GROWTH OF ENCLAVES


Schools have been in the process of resegregating, particularly in the South, for several decades. A major factor in the resegregation of southern schools is the federal judiciary’s decisions since the early 1990s (Boger & Orfield, 2005; Le, 2010; Orfield & Eaton, 1996). As desegregation orders end, in many districts there is less legal or political focus on whether district policies create or maintain segregated schools. And, although residential segregation is declining, it remains high, which means that reverting to neighborhood schools will likely mean returning to more segregated schools (Reardon & Yun, 2005). The legal developments described above have added an extra element of legal risk for local districts that wish to voluntarily pursue integration, but are worried as to whether their policies would withstand scrutiny. Such prominent decisions may also provide feedback to the local political process, signaling support for those who are skeptical of the need for race-conscious policies in our purportedly “post-racial” society. Social science research, however, finds that race-neutral alternatives to race-conscious integration policies are not always as effective in creating racially integrated schools (Reardon, Yun, & Kurlaender, 2006).


An additional factor that contributes to the resegregation of U.S. schools—and influences local and national policy debates about where students attend schools—is the rise of school choice. Although there are many types of school choices, over time, school choice has shifted from a means to accomplish other goals such as equity to a goal in itself (Orfield & Frankenberg, 2013; Scott, 2011). Despite its proliferation, the basic assumptions of a choice system, such as access to knowledge about choice options, is often not equally available to all and, in a residentially segregated and unequal society, school choice can exacerbate segregation. Empirical research finds that one of the most popular forms of school choice, charter schools, have very high levels of segregation (Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, & Wang, 2011; Miron, Urschel, Mathis, & Tornquist, 2010).3 While many charter schools concentrate minority students, in more diverse regions, some charter schools are disproportionately White. Additionally, inter-district forms of choice can lead to further segregation if not explicitly designed to integrate students (Holme & Wells, 2008).


The resegregation occurring in public schools includes the growth of enclave schools, where student populations are disproportionately White and affluent in comparison to the district. The concept of enclave schools was originally developed in a multicity study of civic capacity in urban education to understand what conditions helped municipalities collectively accomplish and sustain educational reform (Stone, Henig, Jones, & Pierannunzi, 2001). Researchers concluded that civic capacity for reform was difficult to build and where it did not exist, they found urban districts struggling to bring stakeholders together around a common vision for academic achievement resulting in fragmentation around issues of educational equity (Henig, Hula, Orr, & Pedescleaux, 1999; Portz, Stein, & Deitrick, 2009).


Enclave schools can also perpetuate political fragmentation and focus on “improving the relative position of their school versus others, rather than aiming for changes that might benefit the system at large” (Henig et al., 1999, p. 198; see also Kozol, 2005). For example, parents in enclave schools, who tend to be very active and engaged, often raise funds in addition to those provided by the district in order to enhance the educational experiences for their children. Since parents’ concerns are focused on advocating for schools to address their child’s needs instead of more systemic changes, adopting equity-minded policies may be more challenging in school districts where the number of enclave schools is growing (Henig et al., 1999). An extension of this concept may be the formation of enclave districts in states in which exiting an established school district is relatively easy. Such action can further solidify the ability of parents to devote resources to improving the school(s) their child attends without the concern that such resources may be devoted toward other more heterogeneous schools (Frankenberg, 2009; Holme & Finnigan, this issue).4 By contrast, countywide districts may be more effective in maintaining diversity, particularly during a time of rapid demographic transformation, because they contain larger shares of a metropolitan area’s enrollment.


Enclave schools may result from different policies: school choice that may be used by more advantaged groups or neighborhood schools where high housing costs limit access to certain schools (Fuller, Elmore, & Orfield, 1996; Weiher, 1991). Research has also shown that school enclaves both cause residential enclave formation and are caused by such residential patterns (e.g., Pearce, 1980; Siegel-Hawley, 2011a; Weiher, 1991). Therefore, in order to understand how enclave schools arise, it is important to also examine how the shifting nature of district policies interacts with the changing residential context (i.e., expansion of suburbs, growth of residential enclaves, and increase in segregation) as well as other causal factors (i.e., policies of other governmental bodies, decisions by real estate developers, and preferences of citizens), and how these policies, in turn, affect residential segregation, citizen preferences, and these other variables (see Stearns, 2010). While prior research on enclave schools has primarily focused on urban districts, it is still uncertain whether similar patterns would result in countywide districts like JCPS and WCPSS as they experience demographic change.


CASE SELECTION


In our study, we sought to examine how demographic change influences public support for and implementation of diversity policies in countywide school districts in a changing legal and political context. We selected two cases that are increasingly being affected by changing demographics and local politics and have, in different ways, been at the center of the debate on diversity in public schools in recent years: Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). Both JCPS and WCPSS are countywide districts that encompass large geographic areas and incorporate the city and surrounding suburbs within their boundaries, and, therefore, in their diversity policies. Further, both districts’ diversity policies have been fraught with political and legal challenges as some residents clamor to return to neighborhood schools. This has been a central argument against the policies, which could potentially result in the creation of enclave schools in suburban areas of the districts.


Data collection in our two case study sites focuses on similar variables in each (George & McKeown, 1985). As this article focuses on our initial investigation of the two school districts, laying the groundwork for our future empirical research, our analysis is primarily based on data collected from each school district’s website describing the diversity policies, demographic data trends within the district and community, as well as information on school board representation. We also used publicly available data from local, state, and/or federal data sources, including the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census, media articles from local newspapers (The Courier-Journal in Louisville and The News & Observer in Raleigh), legal documents such as court filings, and policy documents from the district or other governmental bodies (e.g., state legislature). Through the document analysis, at each site we examined: (1) activities by district or community leaders to promote policies aimed at maintaining diversity; (2) any legal action and/or response affecting diversity policies, particularly the development of new suburban enclaves; and (3) past, present, and projected effects of diversity policies.


While both JCPS and WCPSS are countywide districts in the South with a history of voluntary integration efforts, they differ in significant ways. WCPSS was never subject to a federal court order regarding desegregation, rather the district was created through voluntarily efforts to achieve racial integration. JCPS, on the other hand, was established after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered the Louisville and Jefferson County school systems to merge into one system after finding both districts to be racially segregated in the mid-1970s. In our findings, we describe in detail each of the case study sites, including the historical context of each diversity policy, the demographic make-up of the districts, and how local politics have impacted where the diversity policies in each district currently stand.


INTEGRATION IN THE SOUTH: WAKE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA AND JEFFERSON COUNTY, KENTUCKY


The large, diverse countywide school districts in Wake and Jefferson counties perhaps exemplify the most demographically advantageous districts to pursue integration in the 21st century: because of the lack of fragmentation, large percentages of Whites and non-Whites are contained within the same district. In addition, as is the case throughout the region, both have histories of pursuing desegregation. And, like many southern districts, JCPS has been declared unitary. Thus, while Ryan (2010) argues that PICS was unlikely to matter much due to homogeneity of many school districts, WCPSS and JCPS are two districts in which we might perceive an impact of the recent Court decision.


The Wake County Public Schools System, the largest school district in the state of North Carolina and the 18th largest district in the United States, began desegregating its schools in 1976, the same year a plan to merge the public schools for the city of Raleigh with the suburbs in the surrounding county was passed in spite of political opposition (Siegel-Hawley, 2011b). Along with integrating a system of magnet schools and year-round programs, the district adopted a desegregation policy that required every school to have a minority composition between 15% and 45%. In 2000, cognizant of the impact the legal context surrounding race-conscious policies (Silberman, 2002), the WCPSS school board adopted a race-neutral student assignment plan, which used socio-economic status (up to 40% low-income students in a school) and academic achievement (up to 25% low-achieving students in a school) to assign students. Today, the current iteration of the WCPSS plan assigns students to base schools that are relatively close in proximity to their homes while also providing families opportunities to select calendar, magnet, and application schools.


Unlike WCPSS, JCPS was formed through a court-ordered merger of the city and county school systems. In 1974, the school systems in the city of Louisville and Jefferson County merged into one system, after segregation was found to still exist within each of the school systems (Newburg Area Council v. Board of Education Jefferson County, 1974). Twenty-five years after JCPS was created, the district was declared unitary in 2000, effectively ending court-ordered desegregation (Hampton v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 2000). Despite the ruling, the JCPS school board voluntarily continued to implement its race-conscious student assignment plan assigning students to schools in order to achieve their goal of racial balance of 15–50% Black students in every school (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 2007). However, in 2007, JCPS was forced to end its use of racial balancing in student assignment as a result of the PICS decision. Since the PICS ruling, JCPS has faced a number of challenges to the legality of its plan. Like WCPSS, the diversity policy in JCPS has been increasingly challenged as the demographics continue to shift and the way in which diversity is debated is much different than when the two districts were initially established.


RESIDENTIAL AND DISTRICT RACIAL COMPOSITION


Jefferson County and Wake County both possess a majority-White population, but Census data since 2000 illustrates both districts are experiencing demographic change, especially with the growth of Latinos. Out of the more than 900,000 people residing in Wake County’s sprawling 835 square mile area, 66.3% are classified as White, 20.7% Black, and 9.8% Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census, 2010b). The 380 square mile urban-suburban Jefferson County is also home to a predominately White (72.7%) population followed by Black residents comprising 20.8% of the area. Only 4.4% of the county’s population is Hispanic or Latino, although its minority population has been fueling Jefferson County’s growth in the last decade (U.S. Census, 2010a). Wake County has experienced a much larger population growth in recent years as compared to Jefferson County, increasing by approximately 30% (from 627,846 to 900,993) in the first decade of the 21st century. However, unlike Jefferson County, Wake County saw significant increases among all of its subpopulations: White 24%, Black or African American 33.6%, Asian 56.2%, and the most population growth occurring among Hispanics or Latinos at 61.3% (U.S. Census, 2000b; 2010b). Tables 1 and 2 illustrate the demographic changes occurring within Wake County and Jefferson County over the past 10 years.


Table 1. Wake County, North Carolina Racial/Ethnic Demographics, 2000 & 2010

 

2000

2010

Percentage Change

Total Population

627,846

900,993

30.30%

White

454,544

597,546

24.00%

Black or African American

123,820

186,510

33.60%

Asian

21,249

48,533

56.20%

Hispanic or Latino

33,985

87,922

61.30%

Source: U.S. Census, 2000b, 2010b


Table 2. Jefferson County, Kentucky Racial/Ethnic Demographics, 2000-2010

 

2000

2010

Percentage Change

Total Population

693,604

741,096

6.40%

White

536,721

538,714

0.40%

Black or African American

130,928

154,246

15.10%

Asian

9,640

16,338

41.00%

Hispanic or Latino

12,370

32,542

62.00%

Source: U.S. Census, 2000a, 2010a


Although demographics have changed in Wake County and Jefferson County in recent years, residents of both communities continue to be residentially segregated as measured by several dimensions (e.g., concentration and evenness). The continued patterns of residential segregation in both counties are important to distinguish as they can play a role in the growth of enclave schools (e.g., Pearce, 1980; Siegel-Hawley, 2011a; Weiher, 1991). According to a 2010 report on housing in Louisville, 48% of Whites lived in neighborhoods where less than 5% of African Americans resided, and an additional 26% of Whites lived in neighborhoods where less than a tenth of African Americans resided (Orfield & Frankenberg, 2011b). Out of the 86 communities located within Jefferson County, 52 have populations that are 90% or more White (U.S. Census, 2010a). In Wake County, half of the 12 cities located within the area have populations of more than 70% White (U.S. Census, 2010b). Between 2000 and 2010, the Black-White dissimilarity index in the Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina metropolitan area increased from 40.8 to 42.1, as did the Hispanic-White dissimilarity index from 34.9 to 37.1 (Frey, 2011).5 This means that 42.1% of Blacks and 37.1% of Hispanics would have to move to another neighborhood to make Blacks and Whites, and Hispanics and Whites, evenly distributed across all neighborhoods (Logan & Stults, 2010). However, in the city of Raleigh, the largest city within Wake County, the Black-White dissimilarity index decreased from 56.2 to 50.3 between 2000 and 2010, while the Hispanic-White dissimilarity index increased from 48.9 to 53.9. In the Louisville-Jefferson County metropolitan area, the Black-White dissimilarity index decreased between 2000 and 2010 from 63.8 to 58.1, while the Hispanic-White dissimilarity index increased substantially from 34.2 to 38.7 (Frey, 2011). The high levels of Black-White residential segregation in both Wake County and the Louisville-Jefferson County metropolitan area exemplify the spatial isolation that continues to exist within neighborhoods across the United States.


Reflecting the county demographics, the WCPSS and JCPS have both experienced substantial increases in their student population as well as shifts in student demographics, which can have implications for how racial diversity is maintained within schools as well as the formation of enclave schools in areas throughout the district. From 2000 to 2010, the district’s population dramatically increased from approximately 98,000 to over 143,000 students, causing the district to open 21 new schools since 2006 alone (NCES, 2010). The White population increased by 13.7%, Black or African American increased 28.2%, Asian increased 54.6%, and the Hispanic population rose substantially by nearly 76.8% (WCPSS, 2000, 2010). Today, WCPSS enrolls approximately 146,000 students in 160+ schools. In the 2011-2012 school year, just under half of the students in WCPSS were White, a little less than one-quarter were Black, and Latino, Asian, and multiracial students combined for more than 20% of the enrollment (see Table 3). About 32% of students received free or reduced-price lunch (WCPSS, 2011).


Although the JCPS student population has not grown as much as the WCPSS student population since 2000, the demographics within the district have changed significantly. Most notably, while still small in numbers, the Asian and Hispanic populations increased by 64.1% and 77.9% respectively from 2000 to 2010 (see Table 4). In a southern school district that has historically been predominately Black and White, these figures are interesting to note and may play a role in the formation of enclave schools, particularly as so many communities within the county continue to be highly residentially segregated. Today, JCPS enrolls over 100,000 students: 50.7% are White, 37.2% Black, and 12.1% other. Another difference between the two districts is the socioeconomic composition of students: about 62% of JCPS students receive free or reduced-price lunch (JCPS, 2011).


Table 3. Wake County Public School System Racial/Ethnic Demographics, 2000 & 2010

 

2000-2001

2010-2011

Percentage
Change

Total Population

97,691

143,289

31.80%

White

61,246

70,986

13.70%

Black or African American

25,493

35,494

28.20%

Asian

3,925

8,644

54.60%

Hispanic

4,855

20,909

76.80%

Source: Wake County Public School System, 2000; 2010


Table 4. Jefferson County Public Schools Racial/Ethnic Demographics, 2000 & 2010

 

2000-2001

2010-2011

Percentage Change

Total Population

91,137

99,819

9.50%

White

51,587

55,050

6.20%

Black or African American

31,047

37,145

16.40%

Asian

1,088

3,033

64.10%

Hispanic

1,340

6,076

77.90%

Source: Jefferson County Public Schools, 2000; 2010


As is the case for Wake County and Jefferson County (see Tables 1 and 2), the White population has been increasing less during recent years in WCPSS and JCPS, which may be due in part to what Hirschman (1970) refers to as the “exit option,” whereas when the quality of a good, in this case a school district, is perceived to have declined, the consumer will search for a better option. Thus, when parents believe the options of schools they can choose from is not adequate, they exit the system all together if they are able. Traditionally, it was thought that countywide districts made the “exit option” more steep because it required a more significant move than small municipal districts in close proximity to one another (e.g., Pearce, 1980). Notably, the White percentage increase in WCPSS is considerably less than the percentage increase among the entire population, which may indicate increased use of private schools by White families.


Interestingly, as the demographic landscape in Wake County and Jefferson County, as well as WCPSS and JCPS, has dramatically shifted, the way in which diversity is defined and debated has also shifted. As school demographics become more multifaceted, the need to educate district residents of the value of integration—academically and socially—takes on greater importance. When designing diversity policies, if districts fail to take into consideration how their communities are racially transforming and the impact these changes can have on their schools, achieving and maintaining diversity may be more challenging. Further, as Wake County and Jefferson County continue to be residentially segregated, implementing diversity policies that do not consider the ramifications of racial isolation and segregation may do more harm than good, working against the many years of district efforts to achieve racially integrated schools. Additionally, and as a result of PICS, as more districts move toward designing and implementing race-neutral policies that still seek to achieve racial integration, they must continuously be aware of the local political environment as shifts in politics can undermine the plans altogether.


IMPLEMENTATION OF RACE-NEUTRAL POLICIES


While racial demographics are changing in metropolitan areas and schools are resegregating at alarming rates (Clotfelter, 2004; Orfield, 2009), the push for implementing race-neutral diversity policies that seek to achieve racial diversity has increased. The PICS decision was the latest in a series of Court rulings expressing skepticism of governmental race-conscious policies, and the first “Dear Colleagues” letter from the federal government interpreting PICS suggested that race-neutral policies were the only legal means of achieving diversity according to the Court (Le, 2010). Likewise, the election of Barack Obama as president was the latest example in popular discourse that we had become “post-racial” and race-conscious policies were no longer needed. Yet when many districts tried to implement race-neutral plans, even prior to PICS, they were not successful in achieving or maintaining racial diversity within their schools. Indeed, when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools was ordered by a federal court to eliminate the use of its race-conscious plan in favor of a neighborhood school-based plan in 1999, just one year after the ruling the percentage of Black students in racially isolated schools increased by 11% (Mickelson, 2003).


The implementation of the WCPSS student assignment policy using SES and subsequent reassignments that resulted in a growing (and geographically expansive) school district ultimately affected the success of the plan and support on the school board for it. WCPSS had been implementing a race-conscious diversity policy since the district was formed through the merger of the Raleigh and Wake County public schools. Although the district was never brought to court in efforts to dismantle its diversity policy, during the 1990s WCPSS did become worried about the legality of its plan as courts became more hostile toward race-conscious efforts, especially in the Fourth Circuit, of which Wake County is a part (Silberman, 2002).


In 2000, the district decided to move away from a voluntary race-based assignment policy to a race-neutral policy limiting the concentration of low-income (up to 40%) and low-achieving (up to 25%) students in each school. The board believed this plan would help meet its goal of 95% student proficiency and make every school attractive to families while still maintaining diversity (Flinspach & Banks, 2005; Silberman, 2002). Because of the strong correlation between race and poverty in WCPSS, this plan largely maintained racial diversity, although this declined in recent years (Siegel-Hawley, 2011b). Compared to the days of the prior racial desegregation plan when nearly 91% of the schools were in compliance with the 15-45% racial balance guidelines, compliance under the new SES plan dropped to 58% percent in 2006 (Siegel-Hawley, 2011b).


Despite criticism of the diversity policy since its adoption, this gained only minimal traction among school board members (one board member was against the diversity policy) until the fall 2009 board election, when four new members, who had run on a platform seeking to overturn the student assignment plan and diversity goals, were elected. According to Boger (2011),


The new school board members employed powerful rhetoric to promote their cause during the fall 2009 electoral campaign. The values of diversity, socioeconomic balance, and student assignment became synonymous with busing, social engineering, and perpetual instability . . . Wake parents were led to conclude that Wake’s current student assignment policies were interfering too greatly with family autonomy in the name of abstract policy ends. (p. 22)


In the current iteration of the WCPSS Student Assignment Plan, students are assigned to a base school based on their permanent, established home within the county. However, families have the opportunity to request a school that is in the opposite calendar from their base school. For example, if a student’s based school is on a traditional calendar, there is an option to enroll in a school that is on the year-round calendar. Families are offered seats in calendar option requested schools as they become available. Further, any student in the district may apply for admission into a magnet or year round program without having to meet special performance standards or specific test scores, with the exception of the academically gifted program and the Wake Early College High School (WCPSS, 2013). There is no preference for diversity in WCPSS’s current plan.


Due to its countywide make-up and a school board that has been consistent in its commitment to creating and maintaining diversity throughout the district, JCPS has been able to maintain school diversity at its campuses through its student assignment system. From 1975 to 1998, the district implemented a desegregation plan that established clusters of schools that were either predominately White or Black, and required students be bused between these clusters in order to maintain each school’s percentage of African American students within a set range (Cunningham & Husk, 1979; Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 2007). In 1996, the district modified the plan to require a racial percentage of 15–50% Black students in each school and offered parents more choice in the student assignment process (Timeline, 2005).


The JCPS Student Assignment Plan was first challenged by the courts in 1998 when a group of African American parents asked that the racial guidelines used in assigning students to a magnet school be thrown out because they limited African American enrollment. The parents’ claim was rejected with the judge stating that the district’s desegregation decree must be terminated before the use of racial balance measures could be challenged (Hampton v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 1999; Timeline, 2005). In 2000, the plaintiffs brought the case back to court requesting the JCPS desegregation decree be dissolved and the judge this time ruled in their favor, barring the use of use racial quotas in magnet school assignments and ending 25 years of court-ordered desegregation (Hampton v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 2000).


Despite the Hampton ruling, the JCPS school board continued to implement a modified version of its race-conscious student assignment (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 2007). However, it took only two short years for efforts to be made against the legality of the race-conscious plan. In 2002, in what would become the adjoining case in the PICS ruling, Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (2007), JCPS parents claimed that their children were denied enrollment in certain schools because of their race, which they believed to be discriminatory and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, the Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, which led to the creation of a new student diversity policy in JCPS that would not use an individual student’s race as a determining factor in assigning students to schools.


Guided by the principles of diversity, quality, choice, predictability, stability, and equity, JCPS implemented a new plan in 2009. The district was organized into two geographic areas: Geographic Area A and Geographic Area B. The areas were based on the percentage of minority students, median household income per household member, and educational attainment of adults 25 and older in the elementary resides area. Geographic Area A was below the district average in median household income and educational attainment and above the district average in percentage of minority students in elementary resides areas while Area B included all other areas. The goal of the JCPS Plan was to have enrollment of no less than 15% and no more than 50% of students who reside in Area A in each elementary school (JCPS, 2011b).


While the JCPS Plan has increased public school diversity with more years of implementation—61% of elementary schools met the diversity guidelines in the 2011-2012 school year, which was up from 54% in 2010-2011, and 48% in 2009-2010 (Diem, 2012; DiPaolo, 2011)—since the establishment of the current iteration of the post-PICS Student Assignment Plan the JCPS school board has heard complaints from the community about long bus rides and the desire to allow children to attend their neighborhood schools. Despite the highly publicized complaints from some parents, the handful of plaintiffs who have filed federal or state legal challenges to the plan, and a higher number of transfer requests, a recent survey of JCPS parents found that they (across all demographic categories) overwhelmingly value the goals of the student assignment plan for their child and the community (Orfield & Frankenberg, 2011a). The district staff and school board likewise value diversity and the many benefits that result from it, but are facing a different political climate that may make it increasingly difficult to maintain its current plan. Early in 2010, the school board suggested it would entertain the idea of altering the plan’s diversity guidelines to give parents as much choice as possible (Konz, 2010). Indeed, the school board, each of whom are elected from single-member districts and six of seven of whom include suburban areas as at least part of their school board district, solicited recommendations from outside consultants as to how to make the current plan more effective and efficient, while at the same time lowering transportation times (Orfield & Frankenberg, 2011b).


In early 2012, the school board adopted a revised plan, which establishes a new diversity guideline based on census block groups for elementary schools classifying the areas into three categories (1, 2, or 3) based on income, percentage of non-White population, and average level of adult education attainment. Category 1 block groups are those with lower concentrations of White residents and with lower socioeconomic characteristics while category 3 is the highest SES and White percentage; category 2 is in between. The plan also includes kindergarten students in a school’s diversity index as well as ESL students (JCPS, 2011). The district is continuing to look at expanding these new guidelines to middle and high schools as well as re-evaluating the magnet schools.


SUPPORT FOR/AGAINST DIVERSITY POLICIES


The growth of enclaves has become a major factor in the political pressure against diversity policies in JCPS and WCPSS. The ward-based nature of district elections in the districts may work against equity-based policies as school board members (and motivated voters in their election district) narrowly conceive of their interests, and design and implement diversity policies that change the politics of diversity in their districts (Frankenberg & Diem, 2013). Taken together, both JCPS and WCPSS show in counties in which there are extreme demographic differences, diversity policies that are currently ambiguous/contested from a federal level are likely to translate into contentious politics at the local level, in which a relatively small number of people can influence the direction of the district’s diversity and/or equity-minded reforms.


Since the PICS ruling, both WCPSS and JCPS have faced legal and/or political challenges with regard to the implementation of their diversity policies. These concerns do not appear to be widespread, rather, a few pockets of individuals upset with the plans within both districts have been able to voice their concerns, either through the courts or by electing school board members who represented their interests


In early 2010, the WCPSS Board voted 5-4 to alter the district’s student assignment policy to eliminate its focus on diversity. Although, unlike JCPS—Wake County’s decision was not a direct effect of PICS—it is possible that the perceived legal risk of any type of diversity plan after PICS may have indirectly influenced local politics to the extent that the decision was interpreted as questioning the need to pursue diversity, particularly when the current plan was also unpopular because it required repeated reassignments simply due to the district’s growth. Likewise, among certain parts of the county, particularly those with newcomers unfamiliar with WCPSS’s history of diversity efforts, the diversity policy didn’t seem worth the additional government intrusion and the perception that the diversity policy was costly. Certainly, civil rights groups acknowledge that the low turnout in the 2009 elections that allowed the board to swing to a majority opposed to the diversity policies indicates that they were not as engaged. In fact, in the 2011 school board elections with much higher turnout, the community’s disapproval of the board’s decision to end the diversity policy was reflected in the Democrats regaining control of the school board by winning four seats outright, and taking the fifth seat in a runoff election. Democrats won with at least two-thirds of the votes in two of the districts (Carmichael, 2011), and Ron Margiotta, the longtime opponent to diversity on the school board, was defeated. However, prior to the seating of the newly elected board, the school board forged ahead with its efforts to implement a new diversity plan that allows more choice among nearby schools (Frankenberg & Diem, 2013). The current school board is in the process of designing a new diversity policy, which would be the third for WCPSS families in three years (Goldsmith & Hui, 2012). Additionally, in the November 2012 elections, Republican board member Chris Malone won his election for the 35th district North Carolina House seat, thus forfeiting his current position on the school board (Price & Specht, 2012). Tom Benton, a Democrat, was appointed in February 2013 to replace Malone.


Since the PICS ruling, JCPS has found itself caught in the middle of a number of legal challenges with dissatisfied parents regarding the constitutionality of its plan. In the most recent case against the district, a handful of JCPS parents sought to dismantle the plan in favor of sending their children to neighborhood schools. In September 2011, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that students have the right to enroll and attend the school closest to their home, thus, effectively allowing neighborhood schools. JCPS appealed the appeals court’s decision on the plan to the Kentucky State Supreme Court, citing the ruling to be “flawed” and arguing the “misreading” of the state law concerning neighborhood schools could lead to higher levels of school segregation (Kenning, 2011). The district also noted disapproval of how the case was handled, stating, “what should have been a case of statutory construction (of a state law) . . . became a debate about the wisdom of an elected school board’s efforts to foster diversity in schools” (Kenning, 2011). While the district waited for a decision to be handed down by the State Supreme Court in this case, they moved forward with their efforts to implement a revised student assignment plan in August 2012 that is projected to allow about 2,000 more elementary students to attend schools closer to their homes, reduce bus rides across the district, and still achieve diversity (albeit, newly defined) (Konz, 2012a). Fortunately for the district, in late September 2012 the State Supreme Court upheld the student assignment plan in a 5-2 ruling stating that “Kentucky public school students have no statutory right to attend a particular school,” and, “Student assignment within a school district in Kentucky is a matter that the legislature has committed to the sound discretion of the local school board” (Kenning, 2012b).


Along with the legal disputes faced by the district, three JCPS school board members recently announced their retirement at the end of 2012, while one parent who sued the district to overturn its diversity policy announced his plans to run for a seat on the board (Collier & Delaune, 2012; WHAS11, 2011). The potential shift in the make-up of the JCPS board may make it difficult for JCPS to sustain its policies and maintain and establish diverse schools (Frankenberg & Diem, in press). However, the vocal minority opposed to the plan has yet to gain any meaningful political traction within the district as the legality of the plan continues to be upheld in the courts and the Kentucky State Legislature has yet to gain support for a neighborhood schools bill by both its House and Senate chambers (the bill has twice failed to pass the Democratic-controlled House). The plan continues to have support from the majority of the community (Orfield & Frankenberg, 2011a), as indicated by the most recent transfer figures released by the district, which shows that only 4% of the 1,700 elementary students eligible to attend schools closest to their homes applied for the transfer (Konz, 2012a).


Fortunately for the stability of JCPS’s integration efforts, in the November 2012 school board elections, none of the seven candidates running on the neighborhood schools platform were elected and among all of them, they received only 31% of the vote (Konz, 2012b). The election results represented a major win for the student assignment plan and now the district can focus on moving ahead with its focus of improving student achievement. However, just three days after the election, attorney Ted Gordon, who has brought federal and state challenges to JCPS’s integration policies over the last decade, filed a lawsuit against David Jones, Jr., a newly elected school board member, questioning his eligibility to serve on the board. Gordon is claiming that Jones’ business interests are in conflict with his ability to serve on the board (Konz, 2012c).


DISCUSSION


Examining JCPS and WCPSS shows the challenging political situations that ensue, given the legal and demographic trends in countywide, heterogeneous districts. Since the establishment of their countywide plans in the 1970s, both districts were able to accomplish integration, partly because of geography and partly because of local support for the plans at the district and community levels. In fact, until the implementation of its current plan, JCPS had been cited as one of the least segregated school districts in the country (Kurlaender & Yun, 2001). Further, evaluations of the WCPSS SES-based plan showed the district to be far more economically integrated than other large school districts in North Carolina (Kahlenberg, 2007).


However, while including suburban areas in school districts’ student assignment plans may provide the demographics needed to establish and maintain diversity, it does not translate into complete acceptance of the plans among the people in these areas. Many suburban parents are not in favor of having to put their children on long bus rides to less affluent parts of the county to integrate schools. For example, in the eastern portion of Jefferson County parents have been the most vocal in their opposition to the new Student Assignment Plan because of transportation issues. Newer development has occurred in this portion of the county along with the construction of new schools, and residents would prefer to be able to send their children to schools in this area.


As enclaves grow within countywide districts and Whites do not have the opportunity to flee to a nearby district, it becomes uncertain whether the geographic advantage of these districts will continue as opposition to voluntary integration increases (McDermott, Frankenberg, & Diem, in press). What has become even more evident is the power of politically engaged parents in both Wake County and Jefferson County, who have figured out how to challenge the system in order to make the student assignment systems eventually work for them—even if it means getting a new system adopted altogether—when they initially failed to “game” the existing student assignment process. In the case of JCPS, those who are truly advantaged seem to be able to avoid diversity all together through school choice; choice may equate to higher levels of tolerance of diversity when parents are receiving their first options.


Our case studies illustrate the highly unstable political environment of both school districts. With the possibility of school board membership changing every two years, the stability of the student assignment plans is uncertain. In JCPS, although the school board has maintained unified support for diversity and has not experienced dramatic changes in board membership over recent years, they continue to receive backlash from a group of parents that, although they were not able to influence the most recent school board election, may be able to do so in the future, which as a result, could influence the way diversity is defined and valued within the district. In WCPSS, the recent ousting of board members supportive of dismantling the diversity plan brings a sense of hope to supporters of integration. Yet, if the newly elected school board members fail to act in response to their constituents they, too, may see limited time on the board.


In addition to school board members, there has been turnover in both districts’ superintendency. In February 2010, after the anti-diversity policy majority was elected to the WCPSS, Superintendent Del Burns resigned, declaring that he could not continue to work with the board in good faith. The following year, in January 2011, a new superintendent, Anthony Tata took over, and from the beginning there were questions about his educational experience and ties to conservative groups. Less than two years later, in September 2012, demonstrating lingering issues within the school board, they voted to fire Tata (Goldsmith & Hui, 2012). In June 2013, Jim Merrill, former superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, was hired as the new WCPSS superintendent (Hui, 2013). Though less turbulent, a new superintendent took office immediately in JCPS after the PICS decision was released. In Fall 2010, shortly after the JCPS board was re-elected, a split decision voted to not renew then-superintendent Berman’s contract when it ended the following June. In August 2011, just as the school board was considering alterations to the district’s integration plan, Donna Hargens became superintendent—joining JCPS from WCPSS, where she had been interim superintendent, but had declined to be considered for the permanent job. The changes of both school boards and superintendents will obviously affect the future development of integration efforts in these districts.


Whether JCPS and WCPSS are able to achieve diversity in a time of political and legal uncertainty has yet to be determined. As demographics change, enclave schools and communities increase, and politics and policymaking become more influenced by politically savvy parents, the future of diversity plans remains uncertain. However, the case for and benefits of integration may be clearer than ever. The question that remains is to what depths are school districts willing to go to establish and maintain diverse environments that are key to achieving equity of opportunity for all students.


Notes


1. In some countywide districts, such as the ones focused on in this study, prior to desegregation there were majority-White county districts and separate city districts with a higher Black population that were then merged into a more racially mixed countywide district. In other areas of the South, however, districts have always been countywide.

2. Three years after PICS, the JCPS Student Assignment Plan was challenged yet again by a group of parents arguing that a Kentucky state law guaranteed them the right to send their child to their neighborhood school. After two years of lower court rulings, the Kentucky State Supreme Court ruled in favor of JCPS and its method of assigning students to schools (Kenning, 2012a, 2012b).

3. Common measures of school segregation include measuring the concentration of students in racially isolated minority schools and examining the interracial exposure of students in their schools.

4. A study of suburban fragmentation and political participation suggests that the creation of homogeneous, fragmented suburban communities can decrease political participation (Oliver, 2001), but it is unclear whether this would hold in the arena of education.

5. Dissimilarity indices have become “the standard indicator of racial and ethnic segregation between pairs of groups within a metropolitan area” (Frey & Myers, 2005, p. 8). The dissimilarity index ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning no segregation or separation between groups and 100 meaning complete segregation between groups (60 is considered to be a high level of segregation).


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 11, 2013, p. 1-30
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17196, Date Accessed: 5/28/2022 7:15:56 PM

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About the Author
  • Sarah Diem
    University of Missouri
    E-mail Author
    SARAH DIEM is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on the social and cultural contexts of education, paying particular attention to how the politics and implementation of educational policy affect diversity outcomes. She is also interested in how conversations surrounding race and race relations are facilitated in the classroom and whether these discussions are preparing future school leaders to address critical issues that may impact the students and communities they will oversee. Dr. Diem is currently involved in a study with Erica Frankenberg that examines the impact of suburbanization on countywide districts’ diversity policies. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Planning from The University of Texas at Austin, M.P.A from the University of Oregon, and B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Diem’s work has been published in Educational Administration Quarterly, The Urban Review, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and Journal of Research in Leadership Education. Dr. Diem is also co-editor of Global Leadership for Social Justice: Taking it from the Field to Practice.
  • Erica Frankenberg
    Pennsylvania State University
    E-mail Author
    ERICA FRANKENBERG (Ed.D., Harvard University, A.B., Dartmouth College) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, and the connections between school segregation and other metropolitan policies. Current research projects include studying suburban racial change, policy and politics of response to the Supreme Court’s decision about voluntary integration, and how school choice policies impact racial stratification. With Sarah Diem, she is involved in a study of how suburbanization affects diversity policies in countywide districts. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, she was the Research and Policy Director for the Initiative on School Integration at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. Recent book publications include Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make it Fair (with Gary Orfield), The Resegregation of Suburban Schools: A Hidden Crisis in American Education (with Gary Orfield), Integrating schools in a changing society: New policies and legal options for a multiracial generation (with Elizabeth DeBray), and Lessons in Integration: Realizing the Promise of Racial Diversity in America’s Schools (with Gary Orfield). Her work has also been published in education policy journals, law reviews, housing journals, and practitioner publications.
 
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