Three Decades After Desegregation Lawsuit, San Diego Schools Are Still "Separate but Unequal"

March 9, 1999 12:00 am

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Statement of ACLU Managing Attorney Jordan Budd,
Counsel in Carlin v. San Diego Unified School District

Tuesday, March 9, 1999

SAN DIEGO–Yesterday’s report on student achievement by the San Diego Dialogue confirms our worst fears. Twenty years after the court in the Carlin school desegregation case ordered the San Diego Unified School District to closely monitor and correct disparities in student achievement based on race, white students attending schools in the District still receive a better education than students of color.

This achievement gap is a result of the unequal distribution of educational resources and lowered expectations regarding the abilities of poor and minority students. These findings make last year’s termination of court oversight of the District’s integration programs all the more troubling.

Throughout the Carlin case — filed by the ACLU in 1967 on behalf of student Kari Carlin — we argued that the court order, which required regular analysis and comparison of student test scores and remedial steps the District should take to resolve disparities, should stay in place until the achievement gap between white and non-white students was closed. Sadly, the court disagreed and lifted the consent decree.

The result is that students and parents can no longer turn to the judicial system for assistance in ensuring that the District provides educational equity to all students. Instead, the process is exclusively in the hands of elected officials.

We hope these officials have the courage and the commitment to make the hard decisions needed to guarantee that all students have the same educational opportunities, regardless of race, ethnicity or economic status. Otherwise, we will continue to have two school districts in San Diego, one for the “haves” and one for the “have nots.”

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