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Douglas Ready and Megan Silander, of Columbia University, provided striking new evidence that the racial composition of schools has important effects on the cognitive development of young children.
This issue of will explore important themes and research emerging from the convening.Both discussants agreed that the decision offered school districts a great deal of flexibility for promoting diversity at the group level, including the redrawing of attendance lines and the siting of new schools.Finally, Parker suggested that as desegregation cases come to a close, litigators have the responsibility of putting schools systems in the best situation possible for post-unitary status.Next, a study conducted by Stanford Researchers Sean Reardon and Lori Rhodes examined 44 school districts currently implementing SES integration.They concluded that such plans produced slightly higher levels of racial segregation.Given this dilemma, final panelist Welner highlighted the importance of interweaving research findings regarding the importance of integration back into public discourse, arguing that judges might then be influenced by their social context.
Judges do not make decisions in a social vacuum, he noted, and societal beliefs that shift towards recognizing diversity as fundamentally important to the education process might help persuade the courts to return to prioritizing integration.
In addition, the study found that SES-based plans produced little to no change in the segregation of low-income students.
One explanation of these findings may lie in the way districts measure poverty by using students receiving free and reduced lunch prices as a marker, an identification measure known to be problematic due to both its binary nature and that many older students remain under-identified.
Her analysis suggested shifting the emphasis from the federal judiciary to the executive and legislative branches when requiring states to reduce racial isolation in schools.
In an effort to examine the effects of the decision, a second legal paper looked at southern school districts declared unitary after 2004.
Roslyn Michelson, from University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and Kevin Welner, of the University of Colorado-Boulder, addressed evidence suggesting that the courts have been reluctant to rely upon the wealth of social science research pointing to positive benefits of diverse schools, and conversely, the negative effects of segregated schools.