Alexandria, VA – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional because they rely in part on racial considerations. In response, executives from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) issued the following statements:
“As an organization focused on equity and excellence in public education, today’s Supreme Court decision is very disappointing,” said Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, NSBA’s incoming Executive Director and CEO. “Diversity is the backbone of American society and a core tenet in our democracy. Exposure to diverse cultures and individuals is a critical component to preparing our K-12 students to live and work in a modern society and be competitive in an increasingly global workforce composed of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Without educational policies focused on these goals, communities are often separated along racial and socioeconomic lines. Even with these policies in place, schools are growing more segregated, with roughly 40 percent of Latino and Black students attending intensely segregated schools, compared to about 33 percent in 1988.”
“The authority of school districts to employ critical tools to promote diversity through locally determined policy is long-established,” said Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. NSBA Chief Legal Officer, “and the High Court did not specifically discuss K-12 diversity efforts in its opinion. Preventing racial isolation and ensuring a diverse student population benefit students across all student populations in a variety of ways, including higher academic achievement, increased high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates, as well as enhanced civic participation — benefits the Supreme Court has recognized time and again,” including in a dissent today from Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson that cited NSBA’s amicus brief.
“Local school districts use tools that complement, but are distinct from, those used by colleges to achieve the educational goal of diversity,” explained Kristi Swett, NSBA President and a school board member from Utah. “Unlike universities, which sometimes consider race individually, school districts use a variety of race-conscious tools to enhance diversity without classifying individual students by race.”