Supreme Court Allows UCLA Experimental Elementary SchoolTo Keep Race-Based Admissions
WASHINGTONAn experimental elementary school that uses race as a factor when selecting its students survived a Supreme Court challenge last month. The justices let stand rulings that the school run by the University of California has a justifiable reason for considering race and therefore does not violate the rights of the children it turns away. The Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School, run by the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, has 460 students ranging from 4-year-old preschoolers to sixth-graders. The “laboratory school” is used to study racial groups’ learning skills and recommend new teaching methods. Aiming for a particular student population, the school’s officials take into account applicants’ race and ethnicity, sex, family income, dominant language and other factors. The class of 4-year-olds that entered the school in 1995 was a typical one — 39 percent White, 22 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Black, 9 percent Asian and the rest mixed-race. About 150 applicants were turned away, among them Keely Tatsuyo Hunter. Her parents sued, contending that the school’s consideration of race violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. A federal judge says the school’s use of race in admissions served a “compelling interest” — improving the quality of education in urban public schools. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school’s policy by a 2-1 vote last year. The panel called the school “a valuable resource to California’s public education system.” It says the school’s use of race and ethnicity for research was similar to a medical school’s use of Jewish patients to study Tay-Sachs disease, or Blacks to study sickle-cell anemia. But the dissenting judge, Robert Beezer, says the ruling betrayed “a disquieting renewed tolerance for the use of race in government decision-making.”In the appeal, lawyers for Hunter’s parents say other research-oriented schools will spring up now that they have “the green light to enforce racial quotas.”
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