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Discrimination in Elite Public Schools

Investigating Buffalo

Gary Orfield Jennifer B. Ayscue

168 pages
Teachers College Press
School choice is an increasingly important part of today’s educational landscape and this timely volume presents fresh research about the competitive admissions policies of choice systems. Based on their investigation of a unique civil rights challenge to school choice admissions policies in politically and racially divided Buffalo, New York, and the struggle to open its best schools to students of color, authors Orfield and Ayscue contend that without intentional effort, choice systems are likely to exacerbate problems of inequality and segregation. Focusing on issues that will continue to be contested in the courts and in the policy arena, the authors offer research-based recommendations for reducing barriers to enrollment and for creating competitive-admissions choice systems that will allow all students access to important educational opportunities. The book outlines specific steps school systems can take, including developing a district-wide diversity plan, providing more accessible information, conducting holistic admissions processes, expanding the availability of choices, and offering preparation programs to assist students long excluded from these highly competitive schools. Book Features: Examines the Buffalo Public Schools and their admissions process following a civil rights complaint filed by parents and community leaders. Assesses admissions policies that unfairly exclude Black and Latino groups based on overreliance on a single test score. Identifies policies and practices that can break down barriers to equal access and opportunity. Assists educators, parents, civil rights leaders, and community groups who are struggling to turn the power of choice toward equity.
Author Bio
Gary Orfield is distinguished research professor of education, law, political science and urban planning and co-director of The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was co-founder of the Harvard Civil Rights Project. Jennifer B. Ayscue, PhD, is an American Educational Research Association Congressional Fellow and was research director of the Initiative for School Integration at The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.