Not a "worthy and essential goal"
Today's Record contains an editorial decrying a recent Supreme Court decision that banned the use of race as a factor in school admissions decisions as a "step backward." The premise underlying this view is that "racial diversity in the nation's classrooms, as in its communities, is a worthy and essential goal." It appears to me, however, that what is "backward" is the view of the Record staff.
As support for the claim that the nation's march toward integrated public schools has stalled, the paper points out that in Teaneck, a town with a proud history of taking the lead in ending segregation, "three-quarters of the district's student population is minority." This factoid is apparently intended to illustrate that Teaneck's efforts to "achieve racial balance in its schools by slightly altering school boundaries when necessary" is insufficient and that the Court should countenance more aggressive methods of guaranteeing whatever is considered the appropriate mix of skin pigmentation in a given educational institution.
One wonders, however, what it is about the color of one's skin that could possibly enhance the educational experience. Is making sure that classrooms contain a full palette of skin shades really what we should be after? What inherent difference is there among people of different coloring?
We might assume it is some kind of laziness or inadvertent oversimplification rather that leads the Record staff to express itself in this way. However, if what is meant is that we can all benefit by being exposed to people who hold viewpoints different from our own and experiences that are not the same as ours, then "racial diversity" is a strange shorthand for it. Fostering diversity of opinion, of experience, of family background to the extent possible- these may be legitimate educational goals. But these are all still possible after the Supreme Court decision, which continues to permit the use of socio-economic status and other less objectionable markers of diversity in school admissions. So what, again, was the Record's point?
As some in Teaneck seek a more vigorous dialogue over what diversity truly means, we ought to keep in mind that the filing of individuals into neat categories based on superficial characteristics is most certainly not in keeping with the spirit of respect for our fellow citizens as individuals that diversity is supposed to promote. We should take our cues from the younger generation. Those less saddled by the past and more in step with contemporary culture seem to be less cognizant of supposed racial differences. We could be well on the way toward building a colorblind society...if editorials from the Record don't screw it up.