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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

AALDEF Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Desegregation Cases

Today, the civil rights groups Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), with educational and advocacy groups nationwide, filed amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court in support of voluntary racial integration in the cases of Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, et al., and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1.

In both cases, locally elected school boards recognized that longstanding patterns of residential segregation, coupled with the withdrawal of court supervision over school desegregation, have produced schools artificially isolated by race that fail to reflect the diversity of their communities. In response, the school districts of Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky voluntarily adopted measures to take race—among other factors—into account in kindergarten to 12th-grade school assignments.

“These schools have chosen to take a proactive step in creating an integrated educational environment. Asian American students, just as all students, reap the benefit of an integrated education and become better prepared to enter an increasingly diverse world,” said Aimee Baldillo, AAJC’s director of programs. “The Seattle plan took into account the segregated populations of the city and chose to uphold the principles of integration and equality that came forth from Brown v. Board of Education. Schools should be able to take such things into account in trying to achieve equal access to education,” she stated.

AALDEF staff attorney Khin Mai Aung said, “In recent decades, Asian American student populations have grown tremendously—most rapidly in urban school districts with high minority enrollment. Asian American students and youth advocates believe that a racially diverse student body has irreplaceable benefits. We support school districts' efforts to battle segregation by using race, along with other factors, in public school assignments."

In its amicus brief, AAJC stated:
“Empirical evidence continues to prove the factual accuracy edict of Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), that a separate education is not an equal one. While it should be equally clear that Caucasian American as well as [minority] children benefit from exposure to ethnic and racial diversity in the classroom,” Washington v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 458 U.S. 457, 472 (1982) the advantages of a racially integrated education are of particular importance to members of historically discriminated against groups. Those advantages help such groups combat discrimination and achieve equal status with each other and with Caucasian Americans.”
Asian Americans United in Philadelphia, Boston Asian Youth Essential Services, Detroit Asian Youth Project, Providence Youth Student Movement, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach in San Francisco, and other groups joined AALDEF in stating:

“Amici groups have found that integration can lead to meaningful reductions in school violence and harassment, which holds particular benefits for Asian American students…[A]ll Asian American children benefit from developing greater understanding and tolerance of other racial and ethnic groups at integrated schools and from these groups likewise gaining greater understanding and tolerance of them.”

Copies of the Amici Curiae are available for download at www.aaldef.org/docs/ and www.advancingequality.org/files/AAJC_AmicusBrief_10606[1].pdf.

Oral arguments for the cases are scheduled for December 4, 2006. [Press Release]

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