The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action will embolden groups opposing diversity to push for state constitutional proposals that could restrict or invalidate local school board-initiated policies that help facilitate diversity in public schools.
By upholding a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans the use of racial preferences in college admissions, the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action on April 22, could limit school districts from adopting diversity policies by prohibiting the consideration of race and other factors in public education.
“The academic goal of diversity benefits all students, not just racial or ethnic minorities,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Diversity promotes student achievement both through improvement on standardized test scores in the short term and as preparation for participation in a pluralistic, democratic society.”
NSBA had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Michigan’s Constitutional amendment in an amicus brief in the Schuette case . NSBA argued that instead of protecting the rights of public school students, the ill-conceived Michigan amendment would limit students’ opportunities by interfering with local control of education and local school boards’ abilities to design voluntary policies promoting the academic benefits of diversity.
“These kinds of state constitutional amendments will limit the use of race and therefore greatly limit the ability of schools to implement diversity policies that work,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “We are concerned that in places that pass these kinds of constitutional provisions, public schools that want to maintain diversity policies will have to show that there is specific, invidious, or aggravating injury to minorities in order for those policies to pass a constitutional test.”
Negrón noted that school diversity policies can still exist under the Schuette ruling as long as they comply with the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, which stipulated that policies must be narrowly tailored to achieve academic benefits for all students.
Read more details about the ruling in NSBA’s Legal Clips.