Thursday, February 15, 2018

Be Careful What You Wish For

Former Richardson ISD school board trustee David Tyson, Jr., has sued the RISD, alleging its at-large election system is a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He wants RISD to change to single-member-districts, with at least one district being majority African-American, centered in Hamilton Park, a historically African-American neighborhood in RISD.

That led Carol Toler, in the Lake Highlands Advocate, to write about how the desegregation order in 1970 resulted in closure of the segregated school in Hamilton Park and the assignment of black students there to three different RISD high schools. That created diversity in those schools. RISD still benefits from that diversity today.

What does all this have to do with Tyson's lawsuit? As Toler says,
Even if RISD adopts single member districts, voting districts aren’t the same as feeder patterns, so Hamilton Park could be reunited for voting and remain divided for attendance. It’s also possible that a trustee elected from Hamilton Park would make bringing those students back together under one school roof Priority One.
Source: Carol Toler.
As the robot in "Lost in Space" used to cry, "Danger, Will Robinson". I just assumed that adopting single member districts to achieve minority representation on the school board would not lead to changing school attendance boundaries. I assumed that diversity in our school classrooms would still be recognized as an unalloyed good. Was I naive? Toler's article raises alarms in my mind.

If a trustee elected from Hamilton Park makes bringing black students back together under one school roof "Priority One," as Toler puts it, all bets are off. A hundred years of fighting to rid our communities of "separate but equal" education systems would be reversed, not by white racism, but by the proactive efforts of the black community to gain representation on local school boards. Maybe that's what the various racial/ethnic communities will want, but I for one think that the community as a whole will lose something important if that's the way our community evolves. I'm still inclined to support single-member-districts if it can be shown to be likely to lead to minority representation on the school board, but now I also have to consider the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true."

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

A reader says there is already resegregation, at the elementary level. I agree that there is segregation in RISD at the elementary level, due to neighborhood segregation. At the high school level, careful drawing of HS attendance boundaries has negated that neighborhood segregration, resulting in similar diversity at all four high schools. Perhaps careful drawing of elementary school boundaries to combat neighborhood segregation is called for. I haven't studied that possibility yet.