John Brummett makes the important point — federal Judge Brian Miller's weird ruling that state desegregation aid should end in Pulaski County needs some clarification.
The money was jerked without warning. The instant loss of the $70 million, should it happen, imperils the continued attendance of some 5,000 kids in "choice" schools — either magnets or interdistrict choices in the Majority-to-Minority transfer program. Many of these children have transferred to schools that are working and meeting testing standards, I'd like to add. That's just what magnet and M-to-M transfer money was supposed to accomplish. Miller's 110-page order did no analysis that I can find of those programs, he just pulled the rug out from under them.
The strutting peacocks in the legislature — naturally Death Star Jason Rapert led the charge at a committee meeting yesterday — have no concern for 5,000 Pulaski school children and whether they'll have their school to attend three months from now thanks to Judge Miller's order. They want the money, either to spend on other purposes or to cut taxes. God help us if supercilious opportunists such as these (Rapert is also a minister who professes Christian compassion for the needy) come to control things at the Capitol. Gov. Mike Beebe has properly said needs of kids require some consideration before the state goes off half-cocked annexing that potential windfall.
(Somebody asked a related question and here's my answer: NO, emphatically, this ruling does not mitigate Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's grandstanding and cheesy trumped-up "audit" of local school district expenditures of desegregation money. If anything, the judge's ill-considered ruling, which will destroy magnet schools and transfer programs, illustrates just how vital that money is in operating desegregation programs that, yes, work.) Said Brummett:
It is surely time to begin drawing down the flow of extra state money. But, while none of the money has done any demonstrable good on desegregation, some of it has created better individual educational opportunities.
That’s mainly through some of these magnet schools, a couple of which I have infiltrated over the years as a mentor and found to be, while surely imperfect, noble and worthy. Kids in them are still lost, of course, but it’s not from school effort. It’s from parental and societal failing.
(The judge and Brummett are wrong in saying there are NO desegregation benefits from the spending. At a minimum, it has held off Little Rock turning into a one-race school district, as has happened in cities across the South. If that's not desegregation of a sort, I don't know what is. I also defy anyone to say with any precision what school scores would have been here without the extra aid.)
What McDaniel should do now is renew his proposal to phase out the funding over a six-year period so that important, working schools and the children who expected to attend them won't be sacrificed. I expect him more likely to enlist in Death Star Rapert's "show me the money" camp.