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.