Educators in Connecticut are learning a valuable lesson about unintended consequences. Sadly, students from underperforming schools in Hartford are the ones paying the price. Seven African-American and Hispanic families sued state and local officials last week over racial quotas that have kept their students out of popular magnet schools.
Under the terms of a state school desegregation case ruling, the magnet schools are limited to 75 percent minority enrollment. But only 11 percent of Hartford’s students are white, leaving hundreds of seats in the 21 magnet schools unfilled—with a waiting list 3,600 students long. State officials tried last year to raise the magnet schools’ minority cap to 80 percent, which would have opened about 1,200 more seats to minority students. A state judge rejected that request because it would contribute to segregation.
But parents whose students are trapped in underperforming schools are more concerned about their children’s education than the school’s racial makeup. “This case is about my children’s future, and my children’s rights, but it’s also important for all students of all races,” said Lashawn Robinson, a mother of five and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Their race should not be a disadvantage to their ability to receive a quality education.” —L.J.