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The Supreme Court's divided decision regarding school desegregation should not alter Los Angeles' desegregation efforts.
L.A. parents, students, teachers, and community groups are opposing a lawsuit that threatens to dismantle the district's 30-year-old magnet and busing programs. That case is scheduled to be heard next month.
"We are fighting for schools where students of every color can stand shoulder to shoulder, and where all students have an equal chance at success, regardless of race," said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.
Los Angeles schools are as segregated by race and class as any in the Deep South, according to state education statistics. They are under a 25-year-old court order to desegregate.
The district's magnet programs in particular have been a hopeful sign for schools struggling with low graduation rates and racially and economically divided schools.
Advocates for L.A.'s desegregation program say the Supreme Court's decision could ultimately mean little for Los Angeles families because the decision dealt only with voluntary programs.
In addition, the California Constitution goes further than federal law in upholding desegregation. California schools have a constitutional obligation to relieve school segregation regardless of what caused it.
Research shows that integrated classrooms lift student performance, not just for students of color but for all students. They also give students of color access to high-status social networks that many white students take for granted, opening doors to college and career.