The Supreme Court has ruled in an Oklahoma case that a formerly legally segregated school system that has made a "good faith" effort to comply with court orders to desegregate may be freed from the court's control and orders even if some of its schools remain racially segregated. Justice Thurgood Marshall dissented on the grounds that the survival of racially identifiable schools in places with a history of state-imposed segregation "perpetuate the message of racial inferiority associated with the segregation. Therefore such schools must be eliminated wherever feasible."
We oppose school segregation whether produced by law or by custom, but we think the time has come to take another approach to its persistence.
As Chief Justice William Rehnquist said in his majority opinion, "From the very first, federal supervision of local school systems was intended as a temporary measure to remedy past discrimination." Once the policies that federal courts ordered -- busing, magnet schools, pairing, etc. -- are employed for enough time to effect a remedy, there is no legal justification for the orders to stay in effect, and no social or educational reason, either. School segregation that survives honest, comprehensive and prolonged efforts to root it out is the result of causes unrelated to school policies.