In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, the Supreme Court declared that it will continue to scrutinize race-conscious educational decisions to insure that they are narrowly-tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest. This Article develops a strategy for enhancing racial diversity at all levels of American public education that can survive that rigorous constitutional scrutiny. The Article shows that school districts may prove that assigning a meaningful number of racially diverse students to their secondary schools is narrowly-tailored to achieve their compelling educational interest in teaching racial literacy. The constitutionality of this race-conscious educational strategy cannot be undermined by the availability of race-neutral student assignment plans; those raceneutral plans are not tailored to meet the precise educational objective of teaching racial literacy. This Article also demonstrates that an institution of higher learning that values racial literacy in its enrolled students may constitutionally prefer applicants who have a measurably strong foundation in racial literacy by virtue of having attended a racially-diverse secondary school. Those students would receive preferential admissions treatment not because of their race, but because of their acquisition of racial literacy. Accordingly, the compelling educational outcome of racial literacy can provide a constitutional foundation for enhancing racial diversity not only in secondary school, but in colleges and universities as well.
Copyright Michael J. Kaufman, 2007.