Official Position Statementof the San José Unified School District Board of Education: Re Clarification of Board Resolution #2001-11-16-02
On November 16, 2000, the Board of Education unanimously adopted a Resolution of Commitment to the Stipulated Modified Remedial Order in the Vasquez v. San José Unified School District case. The resolution affirmed the two overriding goals of the Desegregation Remedial Order: (1) the strategic use of choice programs at designated schools, which because of geographic factors would be racially isolated absent the choice program; and (2) the parallel commitment to raise the achievement and educational opportunities for the plaintiff class, who are Hispanic students enrolled in the District. The Board hereby reaffirms its commitment to this Resolution.
This Board fully supports the continued use of targeted Desegregation funding for strategically placed choice programs as a mechanism to reduce racial isolation.
Under the Remedial Order, choice programs must be used in a strategic manner for the purpose of reducing racial isolation at specific geographic areas of the District that would otherwise be racially isolated or imbalanced without the choice program.
The Board both in response to the legal mandate to the original findings of intentional segregation and as an independent educational policy consistent with the Board Vision, strongly supports the District’s current use of choice programs. The use of choice was and continues to be the primary desegregation tool to increase interracial exposure, while minimizing the use of involuntary means. Under the Remedial Order, choice programs can only operate to enhance the racial and ethnic enrollment of our schools. As such, choice programs are located in areas within the District where they are most needed to encourage voluntary transfers. The critical factor in assessing whether a school will offer a choice program is thus not based exclusively upon the total number of Hispanic students enrolled at a school site, (a factor that is addressed however under our second guiding desegregation principle), but rather on consideration of what the enrollment at the school would look like without the choice program. The operative factor in assessing success is whether the choice program is improving diversity at a school.
Moreover, our commitment to choice does not compromise nor diminish our parallel commitment under our Desegregation Order to educational excellence. While choice programs serve the purpose of increasing diversity and reducing racial isolation, the Board recognizes that desegregation funding must be earmarked for the complementary purpose of increasing the academic achievement of Hispanic students and closing the achievement gap.
The Board of Education believes current choice programs are positive in reducing racial isolation in the District and under the District’s accountability model, the goal is to make the programs even more effective.
The Board strongly supports the positive contributions that the choice programs have had upon our community and our schools. Choice has improved the interracial exposure and experiences of many of our students and has helped to dismantle the racial barriers of the past. Eliminating predominantly white and Hispanic schools serves to promote pluralism, but more importantly, it fosters better interracial relations and eliminates harmful racial stereotyping. We find these values to be of paramount importance because our students need to be prepared to work in a multicultural and multiethnic environment
Over one year ago the Board of Education began a proactive examination of its Desegregation programs and funding and how they relate to the Court Order and current District demographics. The Board has further contracted to evaluate its desegregation programs and has established rigorous accountability for all educational programs, including Desegregation programs. This review is consistent with the Board Vision that makes Student Achievement, Equity and Diversity and Accountability for all District programs a District-wide commitment.
The Board’s current evaluation of its desegregation programs, including Choice, furthers the Board’s Vision. In identifying Board-articulated criteria to evaluate desegregation programs, the Board’s goal is to assure that these programs are accountable and further diversity or improved educational opportunities for Hispanic students. It is through rigorous evaluation of all educational programs that we can assure program effectiveness. Accountability means that effective programs will be supported and, in the context of desegregation, that these programs are appropriately funded.
The Board of Education believes that while Willow Glen High School and Willow Glen Middle School are not targeted for strategic choice programs, they are eligible for funds focused on improving Hispanic student achievement.
The Board has heard from the community at the last several Board meetings and there are several questions and concerns regarding the Board’s commitment to these desegregation principles. The concerns, come primarily from the Willow Glen community, but also affect other communities. This Board Position Statement is an effort to collectively respond to these concerns. As an elected Board, the community should know that the Board can only operate by majority vote. Thus the statements and opinions of individual board members do not necessarily reflect the position of the Board.
In response to the Willow Glen community’s concern regarding the availability of desegregation monies for its schools, this discussion must focus on the purpose and intent of desegregation funding, i.e., this funding must be allocated pursuant to the two desegregation principles embodied in the Remedial Order and monitored by the Federal Court.
The current criticisms from certain segments of the Willow Glen community regarding the alleged negative impact of choice and unfair allocation of funds are not factually based. Although, the Willow Glen community does not qualify for choice money, given its naturally integrated geography, it does qualify for and receives significant desegregation monies under the second desegregation principle of increasing academic achievement and decreasing the achievement gap for Hispanic students.
The Board is fully committed to run its schools consistent with the two desegregation principles of the Court Order. Beyond the legal mandate behind these principles, it is the position of this Board that these principles are morally and educationally imperative.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that San José Unified School District approves this Position Statement and Clarification to the guiding principles of the Court Order
The foregoing Position Statement was adopted upon the motion of ___Jorge González______,
seconded by _____Veronica Lewis_____, at a regular meeting of the Governing Board on the First
day of March, 2001, by the following vote:
Ayes: Garcia, González, Lewis, Rummelhoff
I, Linda Murray, Secretary of the Governing Board of San José Unified School District, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true and correct copy of the Position Statement adopted by the Board at a legally called and conducted meeting held said date.
Signed: Linda Murray___________________
Date: March 1, 2001