Other Initiatives in Educational Advancement

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Securing Racial and Economic Diversity in K-12 Schools

The UNC Center for Civil Rights is engaged in efforts to combat public school resegregation in the South.

In August 2002, at its first conference, the Center for Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University convened more than 500 scholars, attorneys, educators and advocates for the conference "The Resegregation of Southern Schools? A Crucial Moment in the History (and the Future) of Public Schooling in America."

In 2005, the University of North Carolina Press released "School Resegregation: Must the South Turn Back?" The book includes 15 essays drawn from the 2002 conference, edited by John Charles Boger and Gary Orfield.

In May 2005, the center hosted a by-invitation only convening of state leaders in government, law, public education and higher education to have an open and probing discussion about the problem of school resegregation and possible ways to address it.

In October 2006, the Center for Civil Rights, with co-sponsors the North Carolina Law Review, the UNC Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity, and the UNC School of Education, sponsored its second national conference on public school education, entitled High Poverty Schooling in America: Lessons on Second Class Citizenship. Essays from this conference subsequently were published in the June 2007 Symposium Edition of the North Carolina Law Review, 85 N.C.L. Rev. 1279 (2007).

In late summer 2007, the center and MDC, Inc. co-published Important Message: Court Leaves School Diversity Options Open, a primer interpreting the United States Supreme Court's school integration decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (PICS). Outlining diversity approaches still available to school districts after PICS, this primer has been distributed to more than 1,200 people, including individual school board members, superintendents, county commissioners and state legislators in North Carolina, as well as to branch presidents of 111 local NAACP branches.

On April 2, 2009, scholars, practitioners, and other citizens interested in racially integrated education gathered at the University of North Carolina School of Law for the conference Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South and the Nation. The conference considered the legal and policy repercussions of the 2007 United States Supreme Court decision, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, which limits the ability of school districts to utilize race-conscious student assignment policies. The March 2010 issue of the North Carolina Law Review publishes scholarly articles analyzing the aftermath of Parents Involved and includes contributions by conference participants Kristi L. Bowman, William J. Glenn, Danielle Holley-Walker, Chinh Q. Le, Roslyn Arlin Mickelson and Martha Bottia, Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, and Stephen Samuel Smith. Copies of the articles can be accessed at http://www.nclawreview.org/ and http://www.nclawreview.org/category/archives/88/88-3/. The introduction to the issue, penned by Erica Frankenberg, Leah C. Aden, and Charles E. Daye, briefly summarizes each of the articles and places them in a broader context; it can be accessed at http://www.nclawreview.org/documents/88/3/introduction.pdf (PDF).

View the primer and other center publications about school resegregation in the South:

Securing Adequate School Funding and Resources

The Center also is committed to securing concrete, tailored educational services for at-risk N.C. children. Our work on this issue includes advocating with State leaders, pursuing ongoing Leandro v. State of North Carolina litigation, and informing parents statewide about the constitutional potential of Leandro for their children's educations. Leandro is the North Carolina Supreme Court decision that, in 1997, established that every student has a constitutional right to a "sound basic education."

Currently, the Center represents a class of students confined to high-poverty, racially-isolated high schools in a Leandro action brought against the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board and the State for depriving the students their state constitutional right to a "sound basic education."

To learn more about the Leandro decisions and find school finance information for each of North Carolina's 115 local school districts, please visit the following links.

Additional Amici Work

June 2009: In the Matter of J.D.B: The Center joined with attorneys from the UNC School of Law Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Office of the Juvenile Defender, Advocates for Children's Services, and Legal Aid of North Carolina to file an amici brief before the North Carolina Supreme Court in support of the juvenile-appellant In the Matter of J.D.B. The amici brief focuses on ensuring that the constitutional and statutory rights of children are fully protected and requests that the Court clarify the appropriate standard for determining when a juvenile is in custody and therefore entitled to Miranda warnings as well as state statutory protections. The case is scheduled for oral argument in September 2009. Read the amici brief (PDF).

August 2007: Wake Caresv. Wake County Schools: The Center filed a Brief of Amici Curiae in the North Carolina Court of Appeals on behalf of the co-presidents of the Coalition of Concerned Parents for African American Children, to oppose a suburban-led legal challenge against Wake County's student assignment policies. The brief is available online (PDF). Read more about this issue from the following articles:

February 2003: Grutter v. Bollinger: The UNC School of Law filed an amicus curiae brief in the University of Michigan School of Law affirmative action case, Grutter v. Bollinger, making the argument that North Carolina's flagship public law school must be allowed to use its best judgment in selecting a diverse group of future leaders for the state. The brief pointed out that the validity of the state's legal and governmental systems depends upon this leadership development--a line of reasoning that was central to the Supreme Court's opinion.

Increasing Access to and Diversity in Higher Education

At a time when the future of integrated public schooling in America is very much in doubt, the Center also seeks to leverage the authority and capacity of the higher education community to challenge increasing racial and economic isolation in K-12 schooling. Elite colleges and universities are in a unique position to influence parental decisions about their children's public education. Indeed, the Departments of Education and Justice released a joint statement in December 2011 reaffirming that institutions of K-12 and higher education both had a compelling interest in ensuring diversity and avoiding racial isolation in their student body.

If colleges and universities began to grant students who have developed the ability to compete, cooperate, and achieve in an inclusive high school setting, an advantage in their own admissions decisions, parents might have an incentive to seek out diverse secondary schools and urge school boards to promote assignment policies that support diversity. With support from the Fulfilling the Dream Fund, the Center has convened discussions of this initiative with leading admissions officials and university attorneys. Moreover, in April 2008, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser led a discussion of this idea at a meeting of our nation's largest research universities.

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