Busing round up

1. Greenwich should sue to invalidate the state law that mandates “racially balanced schools”, and here’s why:

The statute is unconstitutional. In the 2007 case, Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle, * the United States Supreme Court ruled (reiterated, actually) that assigning school children on the basis of race to achieve racial balance is unconstitutional and illegal in the absence of a past history of deliberate segregation. No such history exists here. And, as our BOE admitted tonight, this racial balance mandate is exactly that: it has no provision/requirement for achievement levels, economic balance, or anything except race. Exclusively. White skins counted vs. other colors, period. Unconstitutional on its face, so to speak.

The school board cites “an expert constitutional and school law lawyer” who has advised five other districts not to challenge the law. One lawyer’s opinion? Balderdash. And one lawyer advising six (those five and us)? I’m not persuaded by one opinion, and I’ll take a plain reading of the relevant case over that “expert” or, worse, Democrat Dick Blumenthal’s opinion. Besides, why not challenge? What’s the worst that can happen? We lose. How would that place us in a worse position than we are now?

2. If the town doesn’t sue, we should just tell Hartford to piss up a rope (legal term). BOE chief Moriarty says the state could chop our school aid by $8 million (from a budget of $180 million). I doubt it; that money goes to special education, which by the state’s own laws, must be provided to such students. Can’t punish children for the sins of their fathers. Our superintendent worried that the RTM barely approved restoration of $300,000 to his budget. As one speaker, an RTM member said, the RTM would jump at the chance to come up with an additional $8 million to avoid busing. Or we could bag the Music Palace and devote its $80 million cost to building new schools and writing off the lost state aid. Big deal.

Second threat, according to Moriarty, is that the state could revoke our teachers’ certifications. Oh come on.

3. We either sue now or the state will, sooner rather than later, sue us. Our superintendent said that he barely persuaded the state to extend its deadline for action from September, 2013 to September 2014. He later said that, if we weren’t satisfied with any solution, we would put off a decision until we were. How long will the state permit us to defer action before it sues us to demand compliance? And even assuming we achieve something that satisfies them, Greenwich unlike, say, New Canaan or Darien, will always have disparate economic classes and will always have a population of people of diverse colors, so whatever “solution” we devise will have to be readdressed, again and again, as racial balances ebb and flow along the borders of our neighborhoods. We’ll be committing to a program of constant disruption of our school districts, with the state chasing us every step of the way. Let’s get on with it and settle this once and for all.

4. This issue is tailor made for the Republicans to mop the floor with the Democrats. It was not by accident that no Democrat “leaders” were present in this audience comprised 100% of angry parents. Democrats can’t oppose busing – their base won’t allow it. As such, they are totally out of touch with the citizens of Greenwich. Worse still, for them, was that it was Democrat policies and the Democrats’s law that was being crammed down citizens’ throats at that meeting. No wonder they hid- even a stalwart like Ed Krummeich didn’t dare show up with a “Kiss me, I’m a Democrat” T shirt draped over his ample girth. Unlike my pet issue of Second Amendment rights, this issue hits almost everyone in town. Property values will plummet in whatever neighborhood the black ball lands in, and it could, the BOE threatened, land anywhere. Furthermore, as discussed above, having done one redistricting, there’s no guarantee that the process will stop there – quite the opposite, in fact. And parents, in every district, are rabidly attached to the idea of sending their children to a local school. So what the Republicans should do is (a) field a slate of candidates who all promise to challenge the law and (b) assist an independent party to run its own candidates. Because of our charter and state law governing the makeup of school boards, no one party can hold all the seats on a school board, but there is no requirement that one of the parties be the Democrat party. The Republicans and a new independent party can take all the positions and Fudrucker, Dollar Bill, and their ilk will be left mumbling about the merits of busting up neighborhood schools – they will never be heard of again.

I’m sure there’s more to say on this subject, but it’s late. Good night.

* For non-lawyers, a summary.

35 Comments

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35 responses to “Busing round up

  1. Ghost of the FAR Czar

    All I could think of while Dr. McKersie was saying how great the consultants are is the old Aamco commercial where monkeys beat a transmission with 2x4s while the shop manager says “Don’t worry, our mechanics are experts.”

  2. George W. Crossman

    Lets press for equal distribution of funds while we are at it.

    • Grr Mom

      For equal distribution of funds, you need equal distribution of students per building. 500 students sharing the cost of a Principal is going to be much lower then 250 students sharing the cost of their Principal.
      Most of the so called unequal funding comes from fixed staffed costs and school sizes. ESL staffing and title 1 money (2 different things) make up the other difference for hte most part. If Riverslide wants that $, then they can invite our economically, non-English speaking families to live with them.

  3. anonymous

    Who wrote this blog entry? It’s fairly coherent.

  4. Cos Cobber

    Bravo! Well said as usual.

    There is no worse outcome if we challenge the law. And if we lose, you are looking at a 10 year unwind of this town. This is about community schools; schools that are local and shared with your neighbors. Community schools ar particularly important in the k-5 years.

  5. Anonymous

    The lawyer who was consulted on advising whether to litigate this issue was none other than a lawyer for the CT Board of Education. Not surprisingly, he advised against suing that the CT law was unconstitutional (as he advised 5-6 districts). Not very objective legal advice…

    • Might as well ask Dick Blumenthal for an opinion on a liberal issue. Oh that’s right, we did. Sue the state – I really do think Peter Tesei is going to conclude that his political future depends on him doing so, but we’ll see.

  6. AJ

    “… The school board cites “an expert constitutional and school law lawyer” who has advised five other districts not to challenge the law. One lawyer’s opinion? Balderdash. And one lawyer advising six (those five and us)? …”
    Sounds to me like you all have been proselytised.

  7. ILL-Logical

    Well stated, Chris. Join up with the other 5 districts and challenge the law .
    We only have one high school which by definition is 100% integrated; with 3 middle schools we are somewhat integrated; but with 11 elementary schools, the ratios shift every time a family moves in or out of the neighborhood. The State would have to assign housing to initiate the balance and then not let families move until they find some of like diversity to keep the ratio intact
    Which brings us to the real reason to fight this law. How do we know and why do we care what racial category a child falls into.? Should we analyze the genes of a child of a mixed marriage to get the label correct? What about adoptions – is it the child’s race or the adoptive parents’ race which is the determinant? If Tiger Woods were a student in CT, could we count each of his minority backgrounds? We certainly can’t track religious beliefs, but how about balancing children of gay parents, or of single parents, or foster children? Let’s just quit labeling and go back to teaching….

    • Anon

      Yes. My husband is mixed race and I am not so when enrolling my children at Riverside I said their ethnicity was Caucasian. Should I now ask to change that as it might help the balancing and I would say I have a good case for it? I know others in a similar situation.

      • If just for college admissions alone, you should switch the children’s race. And who knows? One of them could end up President of the United States!

        • GreenITCH

          CF as u say that … how easy / hard is it to change ones race , which I imagine means birth certificate ? and if so is there a minimum percent of race one needs to be in order to declare that their nationality ? ie if I am 1/8 Cherokee indian ! ?

          • Ask Elizabeth Warren – she got a Harvard professorship and now a senate seat by virtue of her (probably specious) claim of 1/16th. Compared to Betsy, you’re a full blooded Indian chief!

    • Well said!! Its a nonsensical proposition that stems from a convoluted notion of social engineering.

  8. TownieGirl

    1) Seems to me that a number of single family homes in Western Greenwich have been turned into two-family/multi-family homes over the years by creating apartments within the existing buildings- could that be part of the “no new housing stock” answer?
    2) does anyone from any of the communities want their children bussed across town? My guess is no. So in addition to not serving an educational purpose that anyone can site data to support, we will now have unhappy families in every part of town. Noone wins here except some beauracrats in Hartford. Good job serving your local constituency and representing their needs BOE. Shame on you (you too Peter Tesei). .
    3) in 10 years if there is another demographic shift in local populations, will we go through this again? At what point does that end and do we provide confidence and stability to a) children to know their school won’t be changed again next year and b) home buyers to know they’re investing in a home in a walkable, high performing school zone so their home value won’t be impacted next time the BOE decides to turn our children’s lives upside down bc of a state law that they are misinterpreting.
    There is not one person in this town who will not be impacted- whether you have school aged children or not, public vs private school education, etc- at the end of the day, this is not only about our children’s education, this is about hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate value and the tax base on that real estate and the income of those who can afford that real estate. If the rich people leave town/the state, who will pay all the taxes?

    • For the Record

      And the Mariana lady correctly said that a much bigger percentage of school-aged children than the official stat of 25% are attending private schools. This will be a self-fulfilling prophesy as wealthier parents decide that public school was a nice idea while it was just Riverside Elem or North Street but now it’s a crapshoot what will happen. Off to private school with their kids. Enrollment plummets further. Leslie Moriarity looks like a genius when in fact she was a fool and a coward.

  9. Chief Scrotum

    Unless you enjoy being treated in a condescendingly contemptuous manner by town employees, Greenwich really needs to make town employees live in Greenwich as a term of employment. Currently, these officials not only dictate your taxes but now dictate your property values, and you think they work for you?

    hahahaha

  10. This may be an apples to oranges comparison, but Westchester County’s County Executive Rob Astorino was on Fox this morning, in a rage that HUD has upped the ante of number of “affordable housing” units required in the county, HUD not liking the fact that the unit #’s the county complied with have been put in towns like Port Chester, White Plains and Yonkers, where there is already a high percentage of diversity. HUD wants the housing in white towns. Astorino said HUD sees discrimination and zoning as the same thing and I suspect that’s what the talking heads In Connecticut are thinking too and why there’s even a discussion of busing. Government over-reach is at the core of your problem and ours. Astorino disagrees strongly with HUDs assertion and speaks well of diversity versus zoning in this clip.
    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-friends/index.html#http://video.foxnews.com/v/2422476159001/westchester-county-guilty-of-its-own-racial-discrimination/?playlist_id=86912

  11. Anonymous

    zoning as tool for social engineering?

    swell.

    at what point do you just give the federal gov’t the finger?

  12. Anonymous

    If the BOE goes ahead with race-based re-districting a/k/a forced busing, they will be sued by parents. Guaranteed. So the only way this might not end up in court would be if the BOE told the State to stuff it, and see what happens. But there’s no way that going ahead with a scheme like this will not result in a lawsuit.

  13. Riverside Chick

    Id like to see the data that shows that Riverside School’s enrollment will be going down. All the building around the school with new 5-6 bedroom houses replacing “empty nester” homes, doesn’t make any sense. All this new building is drawing new families with 3 plus kids. Their data are wrong.

      • Riverside Chick

        Also , how about this , every parent registering their chd for school next year refuse to fill in the white, Hispanic etc box. Claim it’s racist,racial profiling etc. LEAVE THE BOX BLANK. They won’t have any “data” to back up their claim. They can’t refuse registration to you for leaving box blank.

      • Other Guy

        Riverside Chick,

        I refused to complete the racial data when I enrolled my kids. The school administrator said that public policy requires (fed, state or BOE policy?) that she guesses my child’s race if I refuse to provide info. Yep, I am not kidding. I’d love to hear someone in this position (in Cos Cob it’s the school secretary charged with the task) take the stand in court and explain their internal deductive reasoning to such a task.
        We have a mixed race household in Cos Cob. It bothers me that our racial profiling system, in nearly all instances, only lets you select one race and not multiple races. I really didn’t want to feed the system this data. We are far from an under privileged household. This process makes no sense.

        • Riverside Chick

          Other Guy- Good for you that you stood up to the administration! That is the most discusting thing I have ever heard that the Secretary decide what race your child was if you did not fill in box!!!! That sounds totally illegal too!!

    • housecat

      No kidding. Did this consulting group even bother to look at real estate sales in Riverside and OG over the last five years? Who do they think is moving into those neighborhoods? Empty nesters?
      (Don’t even get me started on the constitutionality of racial balance statutes.)

      • Grr Mom

        That was asked at some point previous to last night.
        I think the model is that there is a lot of families are finishing up at RS in the next few years but will still be living in their houses for at least 10+ more years as their kids go through EMS, GHS and then college. The next huge wave of downsizing and turnover is at least 10-15 years away.
        I don’t think RS will drop as far as they project but I agree it will drop at least half of their projection because so much of the existing housing already has families settled in and they aren’t going anywhere.

  14. Riverside Chick

    CF- Did the BOE provide a legal definition of what a “minority” is? What catagory does a child fall under if mom is White dad is Asian or mom is Hispanic and dad is Asian? When registering were the parents given specific directions on how to determine race of child? If not, they data is completely not accurate.

  15. Old Riverside

    Here’s another option: Ban minorities from purchasing or renting in racially imbalanced school districts.

  16. Anonymous

    what if you’re the adopted african child of bisexual transgender filipino and irish parents? only walt can answer that one.