Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 7
Mostly White Town Can Leave Diverse District, Court Says
Judge says move is
By Corey Mitchell
A federal judge has granted a
mostly white town in Alabama permission to secede from a racially
mixed county school district and
start its own system-even though
she concluded that race was the
main motivation for the split.
Civil rights lawyers and advocates
for racially mixed schools fear the
ruling-should it stand-strikes
another blow to decades-long efforts
to desegregate schools in the South.
But the judge's decision has
buoyed residents in Gardendale,
where city leaders want to take control of their schools and tax dollars
to establish their own K-12 system.
A Birmingham suburb, Gardendale
has been part of the 36,000-student
Jefferson County school district.
The Jefferson County system-
and lawyers representing the black
families opposed to the split-argue
that the decision could lead to resegregation of a district with a history
of intentionally separating white
and black students.
"A desire to control the racial
demographics of the four public
schools in the city of Gardendale
and the racial demographics of the
city itself motivated the grassroots
effort to separate and to eliminate
from the Gardendale school zone
black students whom Jefferson
County transports to Gardendale
schools," Judge Madeline Haikala
wrote in her ruling.
While lawyers in the case plan to
appeal, advocates for school integration believe the decision could
have ramifications well beyond the
district. They fear that the win for
Gardendale could trigger a domino
effect of mostly white municipalities
pushing to separate from racially integrated school systems.
"If the decision stands, then the
floodgate is open. It has already
been substantially cracked," said
U.W. Clemon, who, along with the
NAACP Legal Defense Fund, represents black families from Jefferson
County in the case.
A Confusing Decision
Clemon, who was the state's first
African-American federal judge, applauded Haikala's clear statement
that race was at the root of the separation movement. That also made
her ruling confounding. The district
has been under a federal desgregation order for more than 40 years.
While acknowledging the role
race played, Judge Haikala also
wrote that she wanted to be fair to
Gardendale residents "who support
a municipal separation for reasons
that have nothing to do with race."
"All parents want the best possible education for their children,
and there is nothing inherently
wrong with preferring a small local
district to a large county district,"
Ten miles north of majority-black
90 percent white-has pushed for
almost five years to create its own
district. It formed a school board in
2014 and hired a superintendent
that same year. In the Jefferson
County district-Alabama's second
largest-nearly half of students are
"We know that the community
is anxious and ready to achieve its
goal of a locally led public school
system," Gardendale school board
President Chris Segroves wrote in a
statement after the ruling.
Segroves did not reply to emails
and phone calls seeking comment.
Education Week could not immediately reach Superintendent Patrick
Martin for comment.
As part of the proposed break,
Gardendale would continue taking
students from the predominantly
black communities that neighbor it
but would not allow student transfers from other parts of the county.
Residents have maintained that
local control, not racial separation,
is their goal. But the phrase "local
control" can be coded language used
to conceal true intent, said John
Petrovic, an education professor at
the University of Alabama.
"I would suspect that it's a belief
that an increasing number of minorities will lower the quality of the
school, that it will affect the achievement of students," Petrovic said.
Weighing Local Control?
But residents' concerns about
local control shouldn't be easily
dismissed, said David Armor, a professor emeritus of public policy at
George Mason University in Fairfax,
Va., who has testified as an expert
witness against mandatory busing
in school desegregation cases.
"It's a strong motivating factor,
particularly if you feel your community is not being addressed by the
larger school district," Armor said.
"I've been in many, many Southern
school districts, and [race] is not as
major a consideration today as it
was in the 1960s and '70s."
A report released last year by
the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that roughly 1 in 6
schools is racially or socioeconomically isolated, meaning that 75 percent or more of students are of the
same racial or socioeconomic class.
"A growing percentage of kids in
highly segregated and racially and
economically isolated contexts cannot be good for the country. It can't
be," said Kent McGuire, the president and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation, an Atlanta-based
organization that advocates for public education in the South.
"When you're using the public's
money, you have an obligation to do
things that are in the public interest. It's not in the public interest arguably to create schools that are racially and economically segregated."
The Gardendale school board
wants control of all schools in the
city, including Gardendale High
School and its state-of-the-art career- and technical-education center
that serves students from the entire
county. As it now stands, Gardendale would have to pay Jefferson
County more than $50 million as
part of the separation agreement.
"We believe that having local control over the city's schools will give
the community a sense of pride and
ownership," a statement on the district website reads.
A status conference in the case is
coming up, and the Gardendale and
Jefferson County superintendents
are planning for a transition.
"This isn't a situation that is only
indicative of the state of Alabama.
It's happening all over the United
States," Jefferson County Superintendent Craig Pouncey said. "To
insist upon a society that ensures
the proper desegregation for the
sake of equal opportunities and to
ensure that all people are treated
exactly the same, that's a hard
thing to legislate."
Engaging the Eye
Building Literacy Via Visual Art
Fine art offers powerful
opportunities to teach literacy
and content knowledge, as
does great literature. Join
Lynne Munson, founder of
Great Minds, as she reveals the
power of art in the classroom.
* Lynne Munson, founder and
executive director, Great Minds
* sara younG, grade 8
teacher, Maysville Middle
school, Zanesville, ohio
* racheL stack, director of
humanities, Great Minds
tuesdAy, mAy 9, 2017
2 to 3 p.m. et
EDUCATION WEEK | May 10, 2017 | www.edweek.org | 7
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 10, 2017
Education Week - May 10, 2017
Pruning Dead-End Pathways In Career Tech. Ed.
Teachers Lace Academics With Relationship Skills
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Ed-Tech Leadership Hazy Under Trump
Parker Davis and Alina Lopez, right, talk about words and acts that cause happiness, in a 2nd grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland, Calif. Peer-to-peer conversations are part of an effort to build academic and social-emotional skills
Legislatures Tackle ESSA, Fiscal Issues
News in Brief
Record U.S. Graduation Rate Not Seen as Inflated
Obama-Era Nutrition Standards Loosened for School Meals
Mostly White Town Can Leave Diverse District, Court Says
Teacher Residencies Can Help Curb Shortages, Studies Say
Do Parents See Math as ‘Less Useful’ Than Reading?
Oregon GEAR UP Links Rural Students To Private Colleges
2017 Budget Deal Defers Fierce Fights on Education Aid
Trump Orders Hard Look At Federal Reach on K-12 Policy
Hurdles Remain for Calif. K-12 Funding Formula, Study Says
100 Days: How Three Presidents Stack Up on K-12
Rafiq R. Kalam Id-Din II: Black Teachers Matter. School Integration Doesn’t
By Robert W. Runcie & Antwan Wilson: How We Stopped Sending Students to Jail
Q&A With Peggy Orenstein: Let’s Talk to K-12 Girls About Sex
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
David Jacobson: A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Legislatures Tackle ESSA, Fiscal Issues
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 2
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 3
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - News in Brief
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 5
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Obama-Era Nutrition Standards Loosened for School Meals
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Mostly White Town Can Leave Diverse District, Court Says
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Teacher Residencies Can Help Curb Shortages, Studies Say
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Do Parents See Math as ‘Less Useful’ Than Reading?
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Oregon GEAR UP Links Rural Students To Private Colleges
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 11
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 12
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 13
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 14
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 15
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 16
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 17
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 2017 Budget Deal Defers Fierce Fights on Education Aid
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 19
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Hurdles Remain for Calif. K-12 Funding Formula, Study Says
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 100 Days: How Three Presidents Stack Up on K-12
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 22
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 23
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - By Robert W. Runcie & Antwan Wilson: How We Stopped Sending Students to Jail
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - Letters
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 26
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 27
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 29
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 30
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - 31
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - David Jacobson: A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - CW1
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - CW2
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - CW3
Education Week - May 10, 2017 - CW4