Race and Class in Public Schools

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Diversity isn’t what it used to be – not in public schools, not since courts started striking down racial quotas. So just this week, the city of San Francisco announced that – after years of trying to integrate its public schools by race, it will assign students based instead on family income.

Supporters say that the switch is both principled and pragmatic, that academic success has more to do with economics than ethnic background.

And if a by product is a more diverse student body, so much the better.

Bonus: the courts can’t touch it, or at least they haven’t yet. Opponents say desegregation, whether achieved by race or class, still amounts to rearranging deck chairs, yet again, while public schools drown.


Chester Finn, President, Thomas Fordham Foundation

Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, Century Foundation

Dick Swantz, former Superintendent of Schools, La Crosse, Wisconsin.