Plaintiff Class seeking extension to Consent Decree

In reference to the News Gazette article: http://news-gazette.com/news/local/2009/02/21/plaintiffs_request_extension_of_champaign_schools_consent_decree

I have to admit I am getting rather annoyed of this. I have attempted to contact the plaintiff class and talk about their perspective, but have met a brick wall. How is it that they were blindsided by the “economic status” system, and yet I was not? And how is it that the plaintiff class is given free reign to continue making the situation worse, rather than working together? In my attempt to contact them, one of my questions revolves around what they have done to help our community, for I am not seeing the big picture. I do see some small things that are better as a result of attention to racial injustices, but I do not credit the Chicago law firm for that – kudos go to local activist and residents for that. I am extremely confused. Oh, wait, sorry. Instead of saying “the Plaintiff Class,” I wish to target my comments to Ms. Carol Ashley directly. What is wrong with this picture?

Well, I am going to fire off a few emails and I’ll be back.

Color me confused

[note: this is also posted on IlliniPundit]

I am looking at the Champaign Demographic Study, and am very confused why the 2006 Tax Referendum was so strongly opposed by the Consent Decree Plaintiff Class and (rumor has it) black churches in general. I am very curious if some of the decisions that were made at that point in time were merely lacking in hard numbers, like those provided by the Demographic Study. If I understand the arguments correctly, the Plaintiff Class opposed a Boulder Ridge school because they felt like it did not address the spirit of the Consent Decree, while it did adhere to the letter of the Consent Decree. I understand that there were some 11th hour negotiations and things were happening very quickly right up until the time of the election. But in retrospect, I am curious.

The Facts

Page 34 of the Study shows that the black population has increased significantly in “Planning Area 3”, which covers Boulder Ridge all the way to Springfield and Mattis. Granted, populations for all races have grown significantly in the Boulder Ridge area as families move in. A similar story is true for “Planning Area 7”, directly south of “Area 3”, stretching from Springfield to Windsor Road.

Page 35 shows that the Hispanic population has increased across the board north of University, and also in “Planning Area 7”.

I might be able to understand some of the reasoning if the focus was on socio-economic status; while I have no hard evidence on hand, it seems quite reasonable that the average income per household for the Boulder Ridge area is higher than the same for households farther east along Bradley (between Prospect and Lincoln, for example).

Another confusing point is that the Demographic Study clearly shows that Hispanic populations are growing rather quickly as well. But my understanding of the Consent Decree is that this group is aggregated into the “non-black” group. Along with Asians. If this is a correct understanding, it would be extremely difficult to plan effectively through the lens of the Consent Decree (if we dare call it a lens at all).

Please note that it is not my intent to trash the Plaintiff class. I have not used any inflammatory language, nor is it my objective to point an accusatory finger. I fully believe that Consent Decree came about in the first place because of horrible inequities, and there is, no doubt, lingering traces of that. I am merely confused and would like answers. I have attempted to contact Carol Ashley without success, as well as Tracy Parsons. Who else can I talk to?

To clarify why I even posted this note, I very much want to understand how Unit 4 can best serve all students. Not just white, black, Hispanic, Asian or “other”. Not just poor, middle-class, or filthy rich. The path to answering that question will inevitably cross several bridges, the first being “what are the needs of all students in the school district?” And “where are the most severe unmet needs?”

The Demographic Study, much like the Center for Tax & Budget Accountability, is an example of some excellent statistical analysis. But where are the action items? Where are the answers for questions like “so what” and “now what”? If there were another referedum just like the 2006 one tomorrow, would the Plaintiff Class agree?