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Inman: School District's diversity policy racist

BY GUEST COLUMN | JANUARY 30, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City School District’s diversity policy, which will be voted on by the School Board on Feb. 5, is a very broad and vague statement that leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Students and their parents who will be displaced by the policy come from poverty-stricken homes, where factors such as transportation, baby-sitting costs, availability of snacks, and safety become heavy burdens for parents. They, therefore, need the following questions answered before their children are bused miles away to attend schools on the other side of town.

Does the School Board intend to provide transportation for students who will stay late to attend tutoring, sports practice, and other after-school programs? Will walking such a distance be safe for children? What about transportation for parents in order to attend parent-teacher conferences, athletics events, and recitals? What about multiple-child homes, in which a parent has children in elementary, middle, and high school?

But the School Board does not want to answer these questions. It claims that redistributing the numbers of students on free and reduced lunch will be great for children and great for the economy. It even provides a document by Hanover Research on its website, which presents the research behind its policy and explains sociologic and educational support for the policy.

However, this document and research is rooted in racist and prejudiced ideology.

The document outwardly admits that redistributing students in the name of economics is done in place of racial rhetoric, stating “economic integration is considered most politically palatable in majority-middle-class and majority-white school districts.”

The document goes on to state, “disadvantaged black children learn better in well-integrated classrooms.” The document is filled with white savior rhetoric and the ideology that black children achieve better academic outcomes from being in classrooms with high numbers of white children. This is as if to say the mere presence of white children boosts academic outcomes.

The School Board continues this false and dangerous precept by commenting on behavior, “researchers observe that ‘middle-class schools are marked by more motivated and well-behaved peers, more active and influential parents …’ ” The authors then equate this back to economics by assuming all white children are from middle-class homes and are more “affluent.”

This is alarming rhetoric. It’s the type that creates discriminatory dividing lines and seeks to marginalize those who aren’t in positions of power. Is this the type of research that you want a diversity policy founded upon? I don’t think so. A diversity policy is supposed to bring about inclusion and equality and should further students’ horizons, not hinder them.

The Iowa City School Board needs a lesson in diversity, civil rights, and the history of racial injustices in this country.

Parents and other community members shouldn’t be afraid to voice their concerns and do all that they can to ensure the proposed diversity policy is never enacted.

Emily Inman
UI student


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