Nov 13, 2007

How Not to Save Racial Preferences [LINK]

Today's letter to the Globe, concerning a Massachusetts busing program:

Richard Kahlenberg makes a solid argument that to withstand legal challenge in the wake of recent Supreme Court rulings, Metco should reorient itself to base eligibility on income rather than race. He provides ample reason not to be concerned about the tiny minority of low-income whites who might attend suburban schools as a result.

I'm puzzled why he would then go on to advise Metco institute a two-tiered system using income as the first test and race as the second. Yes, it may conceivably survive swing vote Justice Kennedy's requirement that racial categorization be used only as a secondary alternative, but it begs the question of why such a racial test would be necessary in the first place. If Metco is to be worthy of survival, why must it be based on race in any way? Why should there be any mechanism, primary or secondary, that would keep poor white students from slipping through the cracks?

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