Saturday, September 7, 2013

Duncan comes out against "forced integration." What year is this?

Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus,  1958
"Forcing integration upon us is not a nimble concept."  -- Alabama Police Chief Eugene "Bull" Connor, 1956
"The unwelcomed, unwanted, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus of the University of Alabama today of the might of the Central Government offers frightful example of the oppression of the rights, privileges and sovereignty of this State by officers of the Federal Government. --Alabama Gov. George Wallace, 1963
"...the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty." -- Ron Paul, 2004
"So whatever we can do to continue to increase integration in a voluntary way – I don’t think you could force these kinds of things – we want to be very, very thoughtful and to try to do more in that area quite frankly." -- Sec. of Education Arne Duncan, 2013
So now it seems, despite the hard-won victories of the Civil Rights Movement, we've come full circle from 1964, when Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox stood in the doorway of his restaurant with an ax handle to prevent its "forced integration." It's 2013 and the current U.S. Sec. of Education seems to be assuring those "across the aisle" that he's not for forcing school deseg down white people's throats.

As if...

Duncan's latest blurt came out on NPR's Diane Rehm Show during a back-to-school panel discussion which also included National Journal's Fawn Johnson, Mike Petrilli from the right-wing Fordham Institute, and  economist Richard Rothstein. 

Duncan tipped his hat to the concept of racial diversity before assuring those who needed to be assured, that the administration was not going to break ranks by forcefully pushing school desegregation or affirmative action.

This at a time when Duncan's home town is facing several civil rights suits in response to Rahm Emanuel's mass closing of schools in the black community, and when the segregation of black students is increasing, not decreasing.

Why  Duncan would make such a pathetic statement more than half a century after the Supreme Court ruled school segregation illegal, is beyond me. Is there really somebody out there (even from within the Obama administration) trying to "force" the racial integration of schools?  What exactly are Secretary  Duncan and the Obama administration really afraid of?

Daley's man, Duncan,  fought Chicago's consent decree. 
We should recall that it was Arne Duncan, acting as Chicago Mayor Daley's hand-picked schools chief back in 2009, who went before a federal judge and successfully pleaded for an end to the thirty-year-old consent decree which "forced" some affirmative action on CPS. Duncan made his case by arguing that the district had already done all it could do and that the imposition of the consent decree was too costly.

Thankfully Rothstein was there to challenge Duncan. Certainly none of the others would have such an inclination.  Rothstein said he couldn't blame Duncan for thinking that integration is desirable only because it is good for students to experience diversity.
"His views on racial matters only reflect conventional thinking, including that of most liberal policymakers. As a society, much as we celebrate the achievements of the civil rights movement 50 years ago, we have abandoned racial integration as a goal and not only maintain segregation but have taken steps towards re-segregating children and communities."
Rothstein deepens his criticism of Duncan's "troubling" remarks on a blog post at EPI website (How Much We Have Backslid). It's re-posted on Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet at WaPo.
Secretary Duncan’s comment on integration was even more shocking for another reason. He stated that we should “increase integration in a voluntary way—I don’t think you could force these kinds of things.” Secretary Duncan is young (only 48 years old) and may not realize that in 20th century discussions of integration, “voluntary” was a code word for massive resistance to desegregation, and saying you can’t “force these kind of things” was the most common rationale for maintenance of black subjugation.

He's not that young, Richard. He knows his history. He's a Harvard grad. Remember, it was Duncan who repeatedly told us that his version of ed reform was "the civil rights issue of our time." He just didn't say which side he was on.

1 comment:

  1. "Remember, it was Duncan who repeatedly told us that his version of ed reform was "the civil rights issue of our time." He just didn't say which side he was on." Thank you, Mike. This is the best blog quote of the day.


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