Supreme Court faces chance to settle racial preferences in school admissions
It doesn’t take a political scholar to notice how important it is for the court to settle this case between the NAACP, a group of black children, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The dispute between the two sets of children is about the desegregation of schools in a city of some 7,500 people near the South Carolina state line. Each side says that the other is not telling the whole story on the city’s school system.
The students’ complaint that their predominantly black schools have been subjected to “racial steering” or “affirmative action” involves a decision made by the city of Columbia to give preference, over a number of years, to children who are white.
The lawsuit, filed in July 1996, alleges that “the majority race of a class of black students is favored over that of their classmates, and that the minority race of a class of white students is favored over that of their classmates.”
The case has attracted widespread attention for its role in exposing a racial gap in the school district’s test scores and high-school graduation rates.
A district which has made headlines in recent weeks: It’s white students who do much better than black students in its high-school graduation rates, and, according to reports, even better at college.
A district that has come under fire for providing extra support to students who are the first in their family to go to college, and a district with a very high number of college graduates.
The city of Columbia, which includes Charleston, S.C., and Orangeburg and Chesterfield counties in South Carolina, has long had a diverse student population — about 9 percent of students are black, and another 5 percent are Hispanic.
But after the lawsuit was filed, the city used its power to favor one racial group over another. Its