The speech (excerpt, below) in Topeka, Kansas marking the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's school desegregation ruling should have been good for a few yucks because
First lady Michelle Obama marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation during a speech on Friday before graduating high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas.
In her prepared remarks, the first lady praised the legacy of that decision, Brown v. Board of Education, noting the diversity of the crowd before her. But she also warned that the specter of school segregation is returning as people of different races cluster in separate communities, urging the graduates to continue striving for inclusion and mutual understanding.
"I think it's fitting that we're celebrating this historic Supreme Court case tonight, not just because Brown started right here in Topeka or because Brown's 60th anniversary is tomorrow, but because I believe that all of you -- our soon-to-be-graduates -- you all are the living, breathing legacy of this case," she said. "Just look around this arena. Look at all the colors, cultures and faiths represented here tonight."
That diversity "would have been unimaginable back in 1954," she said, when a group of black parents in Kansas took their fight for school integration all the way to the Supreme Court.
"Today, 60 years later, that probably seems crazy to all of you in this graduating class," she said. "But remember, not everyone has grown up in a place like Topeka."
"You see, many districts in this country have actually pulled back on efforts to integrate their schools and many communities have become less diverse as folks have moved from cities to suburbs," she explained. "So today, by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech. As a result, many young people in America are going to school largely with kids who look just like them."
That segregation, Obama said, is worsened by the fact that many schools serving predominantly minority communities are not as well-equipped as schools in other areas.
She also said the problems created by a lack of diversity don't stop in the classroom.
Even funnier was the Secretary of Education when he remarked (as Diane Ravitch reported) on Tuesday at the national seminar of the Education Writers Association
While the Education Department has promoted a number of programs and measures to improve the achievement of disadvantaged students, the singularly thorny problem of racially isolated schools has remained and has worsened... While [Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 107 LRP 36247 (1954)] struck down de jure segregation as unconstitutional, de facto school seg- regation has worsened in many respects in the last two decades, Since 1991, all regions of the nation have experienced an increase in the percentage of black students who attend highly segregated schools, where 90 percent or more of students are students of color. Here in the South, more than a third of black students attend such racially isolated schools. In the Northeast, more than 50 percent do.
Both of these people seem to be interested in integration. But Michelle Obama is married to President Barack Obama, who appointed Arne Duncan as his Secretary of Education. Shortly after being approved to the position, Duncan raved "The charter movement is absolutely one of the most profound changes in American education, bringing new options to underserved communities and introducing competition and innovation into the education system." He warned "states that don't have charter laws or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools will jeopardize their applications under the Race to the Top fund. Simply put, they put themselves at a competitive disadvantage for the largest pool of discretionary dollars states have ever had access to."
One critic responded by charging "He's blackmailing states, saying you either have to have charters... or lift the caps, or your stimulus money will be at risk. There's no evidence out there to justify it."
Oh, but there is a justification- it's called segregation.
Experimental psychologist and education researcher Iris C. Rotberg has found
Studies in a number of different states and school districts in the U.S. show that charter schools often lead to increased school segregation (Bifulco & Ladd, 2007; Booker, Zimmer, & Buddin, 2005; Cobb & Glass, 2003; Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2013; Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, & Wang, 2011; Furgeson et al., 2012; Garcia, 2008; Glenn, 2011; Michelson, Bottia, & Southworth, 2008; Nathanson, Corcoran, & Baker-Smith, 2013), a finding that is consistent with research in a number of other countries, including Australia (Luke, 2010), Canada (Yoon & Gulson, 2010), Chile (Elacqua, 2012), Denmark (Rangvid, 2007), England (Burgess, Wilson, & Lupton, 2005), Germany (Pietsch & Stubbe, 2007), Israel (Nir, Inbar, & Eyal, 2010), the Netherlands (Karsten, Felix, Ledoux, & Meijnen, 2006), New Zealand (Thomson, 2010), and Sweden (Böhlmark & Lindahl, 2007). In many cases, school choice programs exacerbate current school segregation and, in more heterogeneous settings, lead to the stratification of students who were previously in integrated environments.
The primary exceptions to increased student stratification are in communities that are already so highly segregated by race, ethnicity, and income that further increases are virtually impossible, or they occur in school choice programs that are targeted to increase diversity — not a goal of most charter schools or school choice programs generally (Kahlenberg & Potter, 2012; Ritter, Jensen, Kisida, & McGee, 2010).
Michelle Obama may be excused for bloviating about school resegregation, given that she is not in a policy-making position, and her speech was as much a platform to promote same-sex marriage and immigration reform, and to slam racial profiling.
But Arne Duncan is the man appointed by Obama to be his point-man to undermine (or as their educational allies call it, "reform") public education with charter schools, which promote segregation and whose results are at best on a par with the traditional public school. The YouTube video below is amusingly entitled "MIchelle Obama warns of encroaching segregation." She can talk all she wants, but the policies advanced by her husband and his Education Secretary promote that very same segregation.