CHRONICLES INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTrnWhat Are We Willing to Settle For?rnby Joyce B. HawsrnFor nearh’ half a cenhin’, hundreds of school districts acrossrnthe nation ha’c battled cxorbitantK cxpcnsie social engineeringrnschemes forced upon them h’ federal courts under thernguise of “desegregation remedial orders.” These orders, whichrnsupersede local, state, and federal laws, arc often devastating.rnCourts have stripped autiioritv’ from local officials, told themrnhow tiiey must vote, and even ordered taxes to be levied. I’hernexpenses of carrying out these orders are often astronomical.rnWhen settlements are .suggested, vear- school administratorsrnand the public are often more tiian eager to negotiate. Setdements,rnhowever, are usually promoted by the court or plaintiffsrnto ensure continuation of court mandates long after a district isrnreleased from court control, and the district often fiiils to considerrnthe consequences of a scttiement.rnhi tile Indianapolis, Indiana, desegregation case. FederalrnJudge S. Hugh f)illin ruled in Februar- 1997 that about 5,500rnblack .students from hidianapolis public schools must continuernto be bused to districts in surrounding townships. While schoolrnofficials had sought an end to the order. Judge Dillin said that itrnwas his intent diat the order be continuing and permanent.rnDillin’s ruling was appealed in March 1998, and the SeventhrnCirciut Court of Appeals ruled that the transfers were neverrnmeant to continue indefinite])’. The school district, however,rnunder pressure to avoid continued litigation, agreed to a settlement,rnand Dillin closed the case.rnBecause of that settlement, busing in Indianapolis will continuernfor at least 18 more ears. The settlement includes arnpledge drat no more than 85 percent of a particular school’s staffrnwill be of any one race. Townships ma begin phasing out therntransfer of .students once their district’s black population is morerntiian 20 percent. If tiiat percentage is not realized by the schoolrnyear 2004-05, the phaseout can .start anywav.rnIn Cleveland, Ohio, the federal court approved a si-carrnconsent decree settlement in April 1994. Over two decades,rnstudent enrollment in the district, once about 1 50,000, hadrndwindled to about 70,000. Finally, a slate of candidates promotedrnby Cleveland’s mayor won seats on die board by promisingrnparents “less busing, more choice, and an early end to thern’desegregation’ order.” It was this school board that signed thernconsent decree.rnThe consent decree settlement will continue until July 2000;rnat diat time, court oversight is supposed to end. The settiementrnwas tied to a new educational plan for the di.strict called “Visionrn21” which, in effect, did awav with the traditional neighborhoodrnschool concept and institutionalized a race-conscious assignmentrnpolicy.rn’The district won release from Hie racial balancing componentrnof the court order, and tiie consent decree was modifiedrnJoyce B. Haws is the director of the communications office of thernNational Association for Neighborhood Schools. Further informationrnabout NANS can be found at However, a February 2, 1999, Cleveland PlainrnDealer article reported that ^5,000 shidents continue to crisscrossrntiie cih daily on 570 buses.rnIn die first week of June 1999, Leslie Mrick, director of studentrnassignment in Cleveland, stated that tiie district confinucsrnto have a “goal” of 70 percent minorit)’ and 30 percent white enrollmentrnin magnet schools. Myrick says “controlled choice” (arnstudent assignment program used in a number of desegregationrncases across the country, including Rockford’s) is used whenrnstudents first apply in an attempt to achieve that goal. After therninitial enrollment period, if spaces are still available, they arernfilled by a lotterv process regardless of race.rnIn apparent contradiction of the policy described by the directorrnof .stiidcnt assignment, the new CFO, Barbara Byrd-Beniiett,rndirected tiiat letters be sent to parents encouraging tliem tornplace their children in schools near their homes. She called forrna return to neighborhood schools to help build a sense of familyrnand communit)’. I low tiiis will work with magnet schools,rnwhich are designed to lure students away from their neighborhoods,rnremains to be seen.rnResidents of Missouri have learned the price of “ending” tiiernSt. Louis “desegregation” case. The settlement does not actuallyrnput a stop to busing; it simply changes the financing of it—rnfor at least 16 more years.rnSince voters were told that a return to neighborhood schoolsrndepended on the passage of a new sales tax designed to raise $21rnmillion, tiie tax passed. The state w ill confinue to provide aboutrn$45 million of the $76 million it now pays annually under courtrnorder.rnThe setriement cuts the city into four pieces; new transfer studentsrnliving in each area must attend particular count}’ districts,rnlessening the longest rides from about 90 minutes to 70 minutesrnone wa. Couiih’ districts will accept new eit- students for thernnext three vears and keep any current transfer students untilrnthey graduate. After three years, the count}’ districts can choosernwhether to continue enrolling city students, for whom staternfunding will be available for the next decade. Most will probabl’rncontinue to accept eit’ students in order to receive tiie staternfunds. The cih’s magnet schools will be expanded.rn”Desegregation” orders often involve not only blacks but otherrnethnic groups. On February 16, 1996, the San Francisco Examinerrndescribed an “alliance” between the NAACP and thernSan Francisco school district to achieve diversit)’ quotas. Underrna 1983 consent decree settlement, San Francisco’s studentsrnare divided into nine ethnic and racial categories: American Indian,rnblack, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Spanish-surnamed,rnother white, and other non-white. No group may exceedrnmore tiian 45 percent of any school, and at least fomrngroups must be represented at every school. Since 1983, thernstate has poured $300 million into the scheme and currentiyrnspends $37 million a year on it. Judge William Orrick continuesrnto preside over the eon,sent decree, which is supposed torn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn