Racial Quotas: The Worst Way to Do the Right Thing
Andrew Pillow
March 13, 2019

If you were told that a black student was denied entry to a prestigious school based solely on the color of his skin what year would you had guessed that it happened in? 1935? 1950? Maybe 1978 in one of those southern states that purposely lost their invitation to the integration party?

Well you would be wrong because this happened in Hartford, Connecticut this year.

It will probably happen again in Hartford, Connecticut next year. This is due to a system that the city uses to ensure diversity. The landmark case of Sheff v. O’Neill held that Hartford’s school were segregated which essentially established a system of racial quotas to reduce racial isolation.

Reducing segregation isn’t a bad thing. But this particular system has led to unintended consequences: Discrimination against the very people it was designed to help. You see if a black or brown student wants to enroll in one of the schools under this program and they have already hit their black or brown limit then they are denied that seat. EVEN if there are no other students requesting that seat meaning the spot remains vacant. Which is often the case according to a 2017 Hartford Courant article.  

Now let’s pause. It’s 2019 and I am well aware of what social media has done to us. Most people are not going to actually “read” this article. They are going to see the headline on Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter and post their rebuttals in the comments. In those comments they are going to say the following:

· I am anti-integration… which is false.

· This legal charge is being led by conservative and libertarian interests… a fact of which I am well aware.

· Racial quotas are the only way to facilitate integration… which is patently untrue.

This is not an argument about the morality of racial quotas. It is not a debate about their legality. It is simply pointing out the fact that quotas are a cumbersome and ineffectual way to achieve the end goal.

1. Racial quotas are an imperfect math and too stagnant to take into account demographic shifts, demand and vacancies as evident by the empty seats in the aforementioned district.

2. Racial quotas are a double-edged sword. The same system that enables black and brown children to attend a school can also be used to keep them out.

3. If the above is true then, the entire spirit of the system is violated.

4. Even if the system worked perfectly and flawlessly integrated schools without any victims, you could STILL have segregation WITHIN the school via honors, AP, and tracked classes which is happening almost everywhere.

It remains to be seen how quotas will hold in a newly redefined judicial system. They may be on the way out especially now that black and brown families are turning against them too. At any rate, school districts would be smart to go back to the drawing board and figure out another way to encourage diversity.


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