Longform

Segregation Forever

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"I don't think that everything that happened in DISD since 1994 has all been negative," he said. "The students and teachers and principals have all carried on rather well."

Moses told the court: "I do think you can change an organization in a year or two. You can change its mind-set. You can change people's telephone personality...You do what you say you're going to do."

In the courthouse corridors during recesses, there was much off-the-record speculation about why the plaintiffs would want to disown the success of recent years. There is a spectrum of possibilities, beginning with a sincere mistrust of the district based on decades of bad faith and bad blood. A certain cadre within school administration may see its position as threatened without court protection. For years the suit itself has been a bully pulpit for the plaintiffs, and nobody gives up a good pulpit peacefully.

But I can't help seeing another possibility, too. If this is success, and if the district really is getting ready for Carnegie Hall, then much more than the courthouse door is about to open. Success, in the education of American children, means that they are ready to spread their wings and fly out into the big world.

Even though the school district itself will be virtually segregated when Sanders sends it home--and he will--the children won't be. Their reading scores and their math scores and their essays and the violin lessons and the enriched history courses in the learning centers--the things Ed Cloutman is so proud of--all of these are feathers in the wings that will carry them to the one place Dallas has worked so long to keep secret:

Integration.

Or desegregation. Call it whatever the hell you want. The word doesn't matter. It's black young people and white young people and Latino young people working together, living together, going out together and...yes (shudder)...getting married and having families together.

The Dallas nightmare.

I think that's why the plaintiffs want to stay in court. They want the court to shield them from the world beyond its doors. And somewhere in here is the wonder of life itself: that the ultimate joke is on all of us. Nobody's right, least of all me, the liberal who can't stand to see great test scores coming out of racial separatism.

In the end the only ones who count are the kids and the teachers. Thank goodness young people have no respect for the rules and will go wherever their wings can take them. Thank goodness good teachers, the ultimate seditionists, can give them flight.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze

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