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Posts Tagged ‘funding equity’

An Merging Perspective as an Austerity Mindset Emerges: School Funding as Fee For Service

July 25, 2017 Leave a comment

I had a second takeaway from Jeff Bryant’s recent Common Dreams article that dealt with two mindsets emerge from austerity budgets. The first mindset is the sense that school children are a burden on taxpayers. Thus, schools should be funded at a minimal level to relieve businesses and taxpayers. The second mindset is that cost shifting to parents is acceptable for schools the same way it is acceptable for other services like trash collection,

While I’ve written many posts about the first mindset, it dawned on me that the second mindset is more subtle and more insidious. As we slowly adopt a fee-for-service mindset for schools, differences in services a community offers for schools will increasingly reflect a community’s wealth. This is already underway in New England. Just as the garden clubs in affluent small towns in New England make sure the medians and small public spaces are lined with flowers, parents in those same communities will make sure their schools provide excellent opportunities for their students. When I drive through small towns where the garden clubs beautify their communities I appreciate their effort and have no expectation that every town should have the same kind of flower beds because beautification is nice but not necessary. But when I drive through small towns with decrepit schools and forlorn playgrounds, I invariably feel dismay.

In the World of Economic Development, Parents are on a Par with Criminals

July 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Blogger Jeff Bryant seems to find especially egregious examples of government leaders’ declarations about the value of public education. In a post published by the Education Opportunity Network and picked up by Common Dreams Mr. Bryant reports on a presentation given by alderman Joe Roddy in St. Louis Mo. advocating the construction of a new high-end apartment building in that city:

In a slide show titled “How the City Makes & Spends Money,” Roddy, a Democrat mind you, laid out a hierarchy of those who “make money” for the city at the top and those who cause the city to “spend money” at the bottom. At the top of his slide were businesses. In the middle were residents with no children and retirees. And at the very bottom – in the tier of city dwellers who place the biggest financial burden on government – were “criminals and residents with children in public school.”

When told that some might take offense at equating families with children needing free public schools to criminals, Roddy countered that the project would “target tenants who are young professionals without children. Attracting that demographic to the city is crucial, he says, and after the tax abatement ends, the revenue windfall for the city will be significant.

As Mr. Bryant notes, Mr. Roddy is not the only local politician in a city or town with a diminished tax base who views economic development as the way out of the woods and simultaneously views children as a drain on their budgets. But Mr. Roddy and his counterparts across the country should face an economic reality: the significant windfall that they expect to occur never happens! After decades of tax cuts for businesses, one would hope that politicians would recognize that as soon as a tax abatement expires the business receiving that abatement will leave the area if the abatement is not extended. Walmart, for example, has no stake in a community where they locate their store, and neither does a huge corporation. Businesses do not answer to voters, they answer to shareholders and shareholders in, say, Los Angeles or New York City— or China— do not care about the taxpayers in St. Louis and certainly don’t care about the parents and children in that state. So as tax revenue diminishes in these revenue starved cities and towns, who picks up the bill? Parents! Mr. Bryant highlights some of the worst cases of cost shifting to parents, and it is far worse than I would have guessed:

According to an annual report, known as the Backpack Index, that calculates the average cost of school supplies and school fees, parents will have to pick up more of the tab if they want their children to participate fully in school.

The annual cost to parents is significant at a time when the majority of school childrencome from households in poverty: $662 for elementary school children, $1,001 for middle school children, and $1,489 for high school students.

A detail highlighted by NBC’s report on the Backpack Index notes that the biggest spike in direct costs to parents comes from fees charged for activities like school fieldtrips, art and music programs, and athletics. These fees far exceed costs for items like backpacks, pens, and graphing calculators.

Families with children in elementary schools can expect over $30 on average in school fees. For children in middle school, the average cost of fees climbs to $195 for athletics $75 for field trips, and $42 for other school fees. In high school, the fees spike much higher to $375 for athletic (often called “pay to play fees”), $285 for musical instrumentals, $80 to participate in band, and $60 in other school fees. Also in high school, the fees extend to academic courses including participating in Advanced Placement classes, which more schools emphasize students participate in. The average fee for testing related to these courses is $92 and the costs of materials to prepare for these tests, as well as SAT tests, tops $52.

I highlighted the phrase “if they want their children to participate fully in school” because it is a major contributor to the economic divide that has emerged in the past decades. State and local taxpayers are loathe to see their “hard-earned dollars” underwrite “frills” like field trips, extra-curricular activities, and athletics…. and as Mr. Bryant’s analysis intimates the list of “frills” can go on and on. School districts in affluent communities can cut these “frills” and the parents in those communities who invariably have the economic wherewithal to do so and who “want their children to participate fully in school” will willingly chip in to cover the costs of these frills.  Parents in communities like St. Louis, where 68% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch, though, will not be able to pay the fees required to have their children participate fully in school. Sadly, many politicians and voters will blame those same parents for their unwillingness to help their children succeed.

Mr. Bryant concludes his article with a description of the NC legislature’ recent budget, which “…set aside millions for a massive expansion of a private school voucher program” while continuing to starve public education of the funding it requires to allow children to participate fully in school. When 27 states spend less on education than they did in 2008 it’s not hard to understand why our schools “are failing”… but its very hard to believe that we are “throwing money” at the problem!

 

Education Tax Credits Save Taxpayers Money, Destroy Public Education

July 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Late last month a Progressive article by Dora Taylor outlined four things about education tax credits (aka Education Savings Accounts in NH) that Betsy DeVos and her allies at ALEC do not want the public to understand. Marketed as a means of providing low income students with “scholarships” that enable them to enroll in private schools, they actually divert state funds to middle class parents who are already enrolled in parochial schools. Ms. Taylor opens the article with a description of how these tax credits work:

Education tax credits are similar to school vouchers. A voucher is money paid by the state to cover private school tuition for a student. Voucher money comes straight out of public school funds.

Vouchers are unconstitutional in eighteen states and one of the reasons is that the money can go to a religious school, crossing the line between church and state.

In a “scholarship tax credit program,” the money bypasses the state and instead goes through a go-between, a “scholarship granting organization” to a private school to pay a student’s tuition in full or in part. Typically, these organizations keep 10 percent of the money as they pass through funds to private schools.

A scholarship granting organization distributes money to students, who are purportedly “low income”, to attend a private school the organization has selected to include in its portfolio. Granting organizations can select the schools they do business with, whether they are religious schools or schools that are unaccredited.

While these groups have set a standard for “low income” —a family of four with an income of $64,750 or less—family income is not a determining factor for many of the students who receive the scholarships.

This convoluted system effectively replaces locally elected school boards with a state appointed scholarship granting board that determines schools worthy of scholarships and the eligibility of students who can attend those schools…. but this aspect of the law creating “education scholarships” is not part of the marketing campaign…. and that is intentional. After providing an overview of the tax credits, Ms. Taylor identifies four elements of education tax credits that Betsy DeVos and ALEC do NOT want the public to realize:

  1. Education Tax Credits Deplete State Budgets: Instead of providing additional resources to enable “poor” students to choose private schools to attend, ALEC’s boilerplate legislation diverts current education funding to these scholarship funds…. and that’s on top of revenue they lose when billionaires make tax-deductible donations to these scholarship funds, some of which might go to for-profit charter schools the self-same billionaires invest in!
  2. Education Tax Credit Programs Benefit the Wealthy: ALEC’s boilerplate legislation calls for donors to scholarship funds to effectively receive a subsidy for making a contribution. As Ms. Taylor reports, donors receive “a dollar-per-dollar write off on Federal taxes and, in some states, it can be used as an additional write-off on state taxes. With a donation to a scholarship grant-making organization, a person, company or corporation can benefit financially, sometimes doubling the tax write-off.” So a billionaire can “donate” a large sum to a scholarship fund and receive both a federal and a state deduction that offsets the donation… and a corporation that likely gets some kind of local tax-credit to locate or remain in a state similarly receives a tax credit at the federal and state level! And in both cases, the donors can claim they are helping disadvantaged children expand their opportunities. Also, as noted above, states can set a “low income” standard that is relatively high and thus enable middle class parents who are currently sending their children to a private school to qualify for a scholarship… even if that school is a parochial school (see #4). 
  3. Education Tax Credit Programs Pose Significant Risks to Children: Since the schools receiving scholarships are overseen by a non-public entities, they are not subject to federal or state standards. Thus schools receiving scholarships can discriminate, barring special needs students and permitting religious instruction… which leads to the fourth factor.
  4. Education Tax Credit Programs Divert Public Money to Religious Indoctrination: While there is evidence that Betsy DeVos wants to use her position to allow public funds to flow to schools with religious affiliations, I do not believe ALEC’s shares that intent. However I do believe the billionaires who underwrite ALEC appreciate the political clout they can garner if they develop programs that appeal to the evangelical base of the GOP. Thus, an essential element of all legislation is to permit public funds to flow to all private schools, including those operated by churches, synagogues, and mosques.

The marketing of “Education Tax Credits” is artful. What voter wouldn’t want to have more tax credits available to them? What voter could oppose giving parents and children more choices in terms of schooling? What voter could oppose a law that will augment state funds with donations from generous billionaires enabling funding for schools to increase without imposing higher taxes? And what voter would be willing to pay higher taxes to help poor kids in another part of the state when those kids will be able to qualify for scholarships funded by someone else? Advocates of funding equity, of public education governed by locally elected school boards, and of opportunities for all children have a steep uphill fight in the years ahead.

 

 

For Once I Agree with Arne Duncan and John King: Defrauded Students Need Protection

July 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Readers of this blog know that I seldom agreed with the positions taken by Arne Duncan and John King. But I strongly support the position they took yesterday in a post they wrote for The Hill decrying the Trump administration’s decision to throw out the rules they promulgated protecting students who were fleeced by for-profit institutions like ITT, Corinthian College, and— while they didn’t mention it in their post— Trump University. As Mr. King and Duncan note, self-regulation of the marketplace did not work any more effectively in for-profit education than it would work in any sector.

But here’s the irony and the reason I was unalterably opposed to both Mr. King and Mr. Duncan. During their tenures as Secretary of Education they promoted “reforms” that relied heavily on deregulated free-market for profit charter schools… and many of the deregulated free-market for profit schools they promoted proved to be corrupt and of no value to the students they purported to serve. Yet despite these failures, both Mr. King and Mr. Duncan stood by their “reforms”, “reforms” that paved the way for the de-facto vouchers Ms. DeVos is now promoting.

Is the Privatization of Poorly Designed and Delivered Public Education in Africa a Harbinger for the US?

July 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Diane Ravitch wrote two posts yesterday that linked to two separate NYTimes columns dealing with the Bridge International Academies, a privatized education service offered in several African nations funded by “social impact investments”.  Peg Peg Tyre describes the primary source of these funds in her NYTimes magazine article, “Can a Tech Start Up Successfully Educate Children in Developing World?”, and it is a who’s who of privatization advocates in the US:

The Bridge concept — low-cost private schools for the world’s poorest children — has galvanized many of the Western investors and Silicon Valley moguls who learn about the project. Bill Gates, the Omidyar Network, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the World Bank have all invested in the company; Pearson, the multinational textbook-and-assessment company, has done so through a venture-capital fund. Tilson talked about the company to Bill Ackman, the hedge-fund manager of Pershing Square, which ultimately invested $5.8 million through its foundation. By early 2015, Bridge had secured more than $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But, as Tyre notes, African nations face daunting governance challenges. Most of the governments are de facto dictatorships that are led by kleptocrats who use public resources to pay off opponents, reward allies, and maintain the status quo, which has very small and extraordinarily well off and well educated upper class and vast numbers of un-educated peasants who can barely make a living. But technological advances are underway in Africa, advances that require a larger number of educated workers, something the existing governments were unable to provide. Here’s Ms. Tyre’s description of the problems Bridge witnessed in Kenya, which incorporates the demographic, socio-economic, and governance realities of African schools:

The founders decided to build their headquarters in Nairobi, and they opened their first school there in 2009. Long known as the Green City in the Sun, Kenya’s capital had begun to reimagine itself as the tech capital of East Africa; newly formed telecommunications companies were placing cheap mobile phones in the hands of millions of farmers, merchants and low-wage workers, and mobile banking quickly followed. The public-education system, though, was not keeping pace. In 2003, the Kenyan government officially abolished fees for public primary education but afterward found itself unable to construct enough schools for the poor children who tried to enroll. Public schools, which receive money from the government for teachers’ salaries and building maintenance, still charge parents small amounts to cover costs like classroom supplies and firewood. The schools’ quality varies, but in some, reading materials, textbooks and even chalk can be in short supply. All public-school teachers are certified. Teacher absenteeism is widespread. According to a 2007 World Bank report, 30 percent of teachers in one region in Kenya fail to show up on any given school day. Learning levels for children are low: 70 percent of third graders cannot do second-grade work. And while some catch up, many don’t. 

Wealthy Kenyans and foreigners send their children to private schools, which are taught in English and enjoy lavish resources. The working poor often opt to send their children to parochial or local private schools, known as informal schools, that take no money from the government but charge fees that are slightly higher than public schools’. Some provide a basic education, but many do not. Sixteen percent of Kenya’s poor school-age children do not attend any school because their parents can’t afford even the smallest school payments. All Kenyan schools are required to teach the precisely prescribed national curriculum, which is taught in Kiswahili and English and mastery of which is measured by an eighth-grade test called the K.C.P.E. Obtaining a high grade on the K.C.P.E., which is seen as a sign of a child’s industriousness, intelligence and moral rectitude, means a student may continue on to high school.

When I read this description of the African status quo, I immediately saw a dystopian scenario for our country’s schools, one that is emerging as I write this. Compare the situation in our country to that described in Kenya, focussing on the highlighted sections:

  • Our telecommunications corporations provide cheap mobile phones in the hands of millions of  farmers, merchants and low-wage workers, and mobile banking  is already in place making it increasingly easy for citizens to roll up large debt while acquiring lots of “things”.
  • Our national and and state governments have not developed a means of providing “enough schools for the poor children”, with infrastructure initiatives stalled at the federal level and state budgets unable to provide funds for renovations or new construction.
  • Our public schools are increasingly underfunded to the point where teachers make out-of-pocket contributions for necessary school supplied and parents in some districts are charged small amounts to cover costs for things like transportation, extra-curricular activities, and textboooks.
  • Disturbingly, in a country that is far and away more affluent that Africa, our schools’ quality varies, and, as noted above, in some reading materials, textbooks and even chalk can be in short supply.
  • Also, based on standardized testing, learning levels for children are low: too large a number of third graders cannot do second-grade work. And while some catch up, many don’t. 
  • Because of the deficiencies that exist in many districts serving children raised in poverty, the working poor often opt to send their children to parochial or local private schools…a trend that is likely to be reinforced by our nascent federal and state policies that promote vouchers.
  • Because an increasing number of children in our nation are homeless, we have an increasing number of poor school-age children who do not attend any school, a number that is likely to increase if parents of immigrants become fearful of deportation.
  • Finally, and most distressingly, because standardized testing is the basis for determining the “quality” of our schools, all Kenyan US schools are required to teach the precisely prescribed de facto national curriculum, which is determined by the limited number of corporations who develop and administer standardized tests.

The difference between the direction our schools are headed and the baseline of poor African nations is chillingly similar, And given the trends in our nation— where petroleum lobbyists are writing energy policy, arms lobbyists are writing military policy, and, alas, privatizers are writing education policy— it appears that our governance is moving closer to the model in developing nations.

Should we allow our public services to decline further, we may find ourselves floundering for solutions to public education in the same way developing nations are. But we can rest assured that should that happen, entrepreneurs will bail us out with “social impact investments”. From my perspective, the best “social impact investment” is a system of progressive taxation that supports a robust safety net that results in an opportunity for any child to learn and develop the skills they need to be a citizen in a democracy.

Florida Legislature Opens Door to Corrupt Charters, Endless Content Challenges, Lawsuits in Public Schools

July 15, 2017 Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Times editors’ assessment of two bills passed by the Florida legislature has it right: the governance of public education is in peril. The fiscal conservatives in the state undercut the school districts’ ability to serve children over the past several years by passing stingy budgets. This year the legislature passed HB 7069, which diverts more funds from public schools and makes it easier for parents to opt into private charter schools– many of them private for-profit entities and religiously affiliated, and far too many of those privatized for-profit entities have turned out to be corrupt. Moving children out of schools governed by elected boards into schools governed by shareholders or religious leaders is anti-democratic and will continue to open the door for mismanagement and corruption.

The editors had already bemoaned this development, and in yesterday’s editorial they flagged two other bills that religious conservatives enacted this session, laws that are likely to result in a spate of needless lawsuits and public appeals that will likely fill Board agendas for years to come.

SB 438, a “a religious liberties bill”, provides superfluous “rights” to students and opens the door to promoting religion in classrooms. Here’s the analysis of the bill in the editorial:

The bill reaffirms that students and teachers are allowed to pray privately during non-curriculum moments at school, but that was a right that already existed under the First Amendment. It then goes a step further with language that would allow teachers or students to openly express religious beliefs in class or at other public school functions, which is seemingly in conflict with previous Supreme Court decisions. The potential of proselytizing along with the ostracizing of students are just two possible pitfalls among the many unintended consequences this ill-considered law could wrought.

The fact that this bill is “seemingly in conflict with previous Supreme Court decisions” means that one or more school boards will be faced with litigation from one or more parents and/or libertarian groups who do not want their children exposed to proselytization or ostracized from classes. It also means that principals and teachers will likely have to deal with religious zealots who want to ensure that the law is being followed in each and every school.

The worst bill, though, is HB 989, a law that “…gives almost anyone — from parents to strangers off the street — the ability to challenge the appropriateness of a classroom lesson. Supporters say it empowers parents, but it more accurately promotes censorship.”  The editors assessment is rightfully scathing:

Think of the mayhem this could create. Don’t believe in evolution? Challenge the science teacher. Don’t believe high schoolers should learn about sex education? Challenge the health teacher. Don’t believe the Holocaust actually happened? Challenge the history teacher. Don’t like the language in The Catcher in the Rye? Challenge the American lit teacher.

Legislators used straw man arguments to insist this bill was necessary, citing unnamed instances of parents who were unhappy with the age-appropriateness of books on reading lists. To be blunt, this sounds like bunk. Schools routinely have alternative selections available if a parent feels a particular book contains objectionable material. To waste precious time and resources on reviews of mainstream books and lessons is foolishness. Even more absurd is the possibility of denying a particular lesson to a large majority of students because one parent, or any other resident of the school district, disagrees with it.

This law will open the door to crackpots of all varieties to appeal curriculum decisions made by individual teachers as well as school districts. Having dealt with appeals dealing with controversial books, I know that it also has the potential to eat into the time of school districts who may ultimately have to hear every appeal brought by every member of the public who believes that the content in history, science, and literature lessons is “inappropriate”. In the meantime, the privately governed schools can offer the curriculum of their choice and tell their constituents to go elsewhere if they don’t like what is being taught.

The editorial concludes with this paragraph:

The common thread in all of these bills, from HB 7069 on down, is state legislators usurping control of local school boards and school districts. These same lawmakers who shout and stomp their feet at any sign of interference from the federal government are interfering even more in local schools. (See: House Speaker Richard Corcoran.) It is hypocrisy. It is bad governance. Sadly, it is business as usual in Florida.

With Betsy DeVos at the helm in Washington and ESSA giving states more leeway, expect to see copycat laws introduced into legislatures across the country in the years ahead.

Do Poor and Minority Parents Want Socio-Economic and Racial Diversity or Equal Opportunity?

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The question posed in the title of this posed emerged after reading two thought provoking articles this morning, both of which offered NYC’s tepid efforts at integration as exemplary.

Americans Oppose School Segregation in Theory- But Not in Practice” Perpetual Baffour’s post in The Nation, describes the two year battle to integrate a public school on the Upper West Side, a contentious effort profiled in earlier posts on this blog. Ms. Baffour’s post includes some heartbreaking quotes from affluent parents who philosophically support integration but don’t want to see it happen in their back yard because they fear for their child’s safety… and a decline in their property values:

 ….affluent parents… may feel territorial over the high-flying success of their school. And property values, neighborhood identity, and a sense of safety feel as though they are at stake.

“A school belongs to the neighborhood where it resides,” said one parent at PS 199.

“It’s not that I don’t want my children to go to school in a mixed school,” said another. “But at the same time we want the best for our children. We want the best for our property value.”

But, as Ms. Baffour notes, it is not only the affluent who have misgivings. In focus groups she conducted in Baltimore and Washington she found that parents of economically disadvantaged white children did not seek to enroll their children in more affluent schools:

For instance, low-income white parents spoke of being looked down upon by the “rich kids.” As one parent put it: “They don’t want us there, so why should we go there?” They pictured affluent families throwing lavish birthday parties, showering the higher-income kids with fancy cars and expensive gifts, making their own children feel insecure.

Having recently read several articles from progressive New York City pundits chastising Mayor De Blasio’s lukewarm effort to integrate schools, it was somewhat surprising to see a progressive national publication posting an article that concluded with paragraphs singling out his efforts as praiseworthy:

The New York City Department of Education recently unveiled its citywide plan for integration, pledging to increase diversity across their entire public-school system.

These changes are promising. Despite rapidly changing demographics in this country, school diversity has barely kept pace, and research shows that all students perform better academically and socially when they learn in diverse classrooms.

Many Americans do believe the time is ripe for change, but it remains to be seen whether all Americans will embrace this change when it arrives in their own communities.

Our Schools Are Becoming More Segregated. Do Parents Care?“, Maureen Downey’s recent op ed article for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, tills the same ground as Ms. Baffour and comes to the same ambiguous conclusion. Her opening paragraphs set the stage:

The resegregation of public schools in the South troubles academics, civil rights activists and researchers. It’s been on the agenda of every major education conference or seminar I’ve attended in the last three years.

However, it doesn’t seem to be on the minds of parents.

Parents worry about whether class sizes are too large, whether math and science courses are advanced enough and whether their kids are competitive for Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia. They don’t seem to fret about whether their child sits next to a child of a different race or ethnicity — and fewer students do, a byproduct of growing residential segregation and school choice programs.

Yes, parents endorse diversity in principle, but not enough to pester the school board or push for rezoning to achieve racial balance.

Her piece is not an apologia for those who want to see schools segregated. Rather, like Ms. Baffour, she describes the conundrum that results when parents’ actions do not match their intentions. She draws extensively from a Penn State University study by researcher Erica Frankenberg, an Alabama native who studies segregation.

In a recent study, Pennsylvania State University looked at the decisions of public school students transferring to charter schools when given the option of schools with different racial compositions. The finding: Black and Latino students tended to choose charters more racially isolated than the public schools they left….

Among the report’s conclusions and warnings:

•From 1954 to 1988 there was an increase in the interracial contact between whites and black students in the South as a result of court-ordered integration. However, resegregation began to re-emerge in 1990.

•The South has a small but rapidly growing share of charter schools, which in the region—as in the country—are even more segregated for black students than the traditional public schools.

Private schools represent about 7 percent of the region’s enrollment and are disproportionately white. In some states, including Georgia, legislatures have provide subsidies to private schools through the tax system. (Georgia’s tax-credit scholarship allows taxpayers to donate money to a private school for student scholarships in exchange for a state income tax credit. The program diverts $58 million a year in income tax from state coffers to private school scholarships.)

The days of court-ordered mandatory reassignment are over; today’s integration efforts almost always involve carefully designed school choice

Ms. Frankenberg does not believe that diversity and quality need to be trade-offs, but she also flags an important underlying factor:

Parents may not place a premium on classroom diversity because most accountability measures don’t. “We’ve narrowed this understanding of what a good school is to something measured only by test scores.” said Frankenberg.

And Ms. Frankenberg, like Ms. Baffour, sees NYC’s efforts as heartening:

Frankenberg sees some communities resisting segregation, citing the new diversity efforts n New York City where white students represent only 15 percent of the public school enrollment, yet a third attend majority white schools. Those diversity policies have been enabled in part by increased flexibility granted from the federal government.

In the end, though, Ms. Frankenberg, and presumably the op ed writer Maureen Downey, draws the same conclusion as Perpetual Baffour:

While New York and Massachusetts are using this new flexibility to further diversity, the easing of federal oversight could go the other way in some states. “Flexibility might be good for those states,” said Frankenberg, “but is it good for states where diversity is not necessarily on the table?”

Editorialists away from NYC see De Blasio’s incremental approach as the way forward. But if research shows that integration benefits both races and everyone on the socio-economic spectrum and the majority of voters view resegregation unfavorably, bemoan the economic divide, and find the current divisiveness in our politics distasteful, it seems that our nation would benefit from schools that are socio-economically and racially diverse. The question is, can anyone develop a plan to make that happen?