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The Diversity Formula: A Race-Neutral Playbook for Equitable Student Assignment and its Application to Magnet Schools

By Joshua Gutzmann. Full Text. 

Contrary to the revisionist history told by some, Brown v. Board of Education did not mark a permanent end to school segregation. Indeed, by some measures, many school districts have experienced increases in racial and socioeconomic segregation over the past few decades. And the impact of this segregation manifests itself in concerning examples of insufficient understanding and empathy across racial and socioeconomic lines. School segregation is a major threat to this nation’s pursuit of the evasive goal of equal opportunity. The Biden-Harris Administration must address school segregation if it is to meet one of its primary priorities: advancing racial equity. But reducing school segregation will also require that individual school districts and states pursue innovative desegregation strategies of their own accord.

This Note offers guidance for school districts and states that wish to decrease racial and socioeconomic segregation in their schools—reducing the strong correlation between a student’s neighborhood and quality of education. It seeks to provide a race-neutral playbook for student assignment that fits within the Supreme Court’s constitutional requirements—anticipating that those requirements may soon become more restrictive. This Note also describes how the playbook could be implemented, under ideal conditions, through a comprehensive system of magnet schools. Finally, this Note recommends practical policies that the Biden-Harris Administration may adopt to support these efforts. Officials at all levels should feel free to use this Note as a starting point for brainstorming and developing a more equitable education system.