Alexandria, Va. (November 3, 2015) - The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by the Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund (TASB LAF) and five other leading education groups filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (UT), urging the Court to uphold the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision in favor of the university.
The Court will consider whether diversity constitutes a valid educational goal and if a race-conscious admissions policy designed to enhance diversity, is constitutional based on the Supreme Court’s previous rulings on diversity policies adopted by governmental entities providing public education.
“The Court’s ruling has the potential to affect all public schools seeking to promote diversity,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association. “We urge the Court to uphold the precedence set by current Supreme Court standards and maintain public schools’ ability to adopt and implement diversity policies that promote educational goals.”
The amici urge the Court to recognize that diverse learning environments provide benefits for all students. These educational benefits stretch across many realms of student learning and development, including academic achievement, social and interpersonal skills, workplace preparation, and civic engagement. Securing those benefits is a compelling objective for the education system as a whole. With twenty-first century social and economic realities demanding the critical thinking and cross-cultural competency that diversity fosters, the importance of education within a diverse setting cannot be underestimated.
This marks the second time that the Fisher case will have been considered by the Supreme Court. Upon hearing the case in 2013, (Fisher I), the Court sent it back to the Fifth Circuit for more rigorous analysis. There, diversity continued to be a compelling educational interest and the school’s policy was found to be effective in its intended goal of increasing racial diversity. The Supreme Court will now review the circuit court decision.
“The Court should affirm its longstanding principles and uphold the decision of the Fifth Circuit,” said Francisco M. Negrόn, Jr., NSBA Associate Executive Director and General Counsel. “The university sought to achieve educational benefits that come with a diverse student population, and appropriately narrowed its admissions policy to help achieve that goal.”
The amici include: National School Boards Association (NSBA), Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund (TASB LAF), American Association of School Administrators (AASA), American School Counselors Association (ASCA), Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO International), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and PDK International.
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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school board associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at www.nsba.org.