Republicans want to eliminate school desegregation
The GOP majority in the Minnesota Legislature has already put out some pretty remarkable bills this session: the ones doing away with pay equity for women, the one limiting welfare recipients to $20 in cash withdrawals, the one requiring welfare recipients to submit to random drug tests.
Add this doozy to the pile: The Education Finance Committee is getting ready to finalize a funding bill that will, among other things, eliminate the goal of desegregated schools.
Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who chairs the committee, says the goal of the change is to focus more on school's academic achievement than diversity of the student body.
"Desegregation is an important goal, but a more important goal is reading, writing, and arithmetic," Garofalo told City Pages today. "Candidly, I think it's somewhat insulting to say that in order for a black child to be learning he needs to be sitting next to a white child."
Integrated schools have been a central tenet of American society for 57 years, since the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of education that "In the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
Garofalo rightly points out that Minnesota hasn't been doing very well by the lofty goal of integrated schools in recent decades.
"We've spent more than a billion dollars on this, and our schools have only gotten more segregated," he said.
Rep. Mindy Greiling, the senior Democrat on the committee, says Garofalo's right that Minnesota hasn't done a great job integrating its schools, but that the solution is to do better, not to abandon the project entirely.
"When Pat says there's no relation between integration and achievement, he's just wrong," Greiling said. "Studies show that children of color who have gone to integrated schools do better in life than those who don't."
The bill is expected to make it to a vote on the House floor by the end of next week.
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