Public Statement: Diversity in Our Nation's Schools Promotes Educational Opportunity and Strengthens Our Democracy

NCSD Issues Statement on Supreme Court Ruling in Harvard and UNC Cases

Diversity in Our Nation’s Schools Promotes Educational Opportunity and Strengthens Our Democracy

In the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Harvard University and University of North Carolina admissions cases, the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) reiterates its unwavering commitment to defend our nation’s greatest strength—our multiracial diversity.

At NCSD, we firmly believe that diversity is not a mere buzzword but a cornerstone of educational excellence. When students from various backgrounds learn alongside one another, they gain invaluable insights that transcend textbooks and classroom lessons. Exposure to different perspectives, cultures, and ideas fosters critical thinking, empathy, and understanding. It equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in our increasingly interconnected and multiracial democracy.

For nearly 50 years, efforts to achieve diversity in higher education have also played a crucial role in leveling the playing field and providing equitable opportunities to historically marginalized communities. Admissions policies that acknowledge students’ racial backgrounds, among other factors, recognize that systemic barriers – often tied to income and wealth disparities, residential segregation, and historical inequities – can hinder access to quality education.

Today’s Supreme Court decision makes our coalition’s work even more critical. Policies and practices that promote diversity in PK-12 schools play an important role in ensuring that our education system does not become even more racially fragmented, and that educational resources and opportunities are equitably distributed. NCSD calls on policymakers, education leaders, researchers, advocates, and organizers to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to school diversity. We must stand united in our determination to build a future where all students – regardless of income, zip code, or racial and ethnic background – are provided an education to realize their highest potential. The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to our efforts in achieving a stronger, more just, fair, and opportunity-rich America for all.

NCSD and our members remain resolute in our commitment to defending diversity and equity in our nation’s schools. In the words of several of our members:

“The Supreme Court’s decision goes against decades of social science evidence about the benefits of diversity and harms of segregation in K-12 and higher education. Efforts to ameliorate segregation and inequality in K-12 schools will be even more important to ensure equitable, integrated opportunities for children, youth, and to benefit our communities.” – Erica Frankenberg, Professor of Education and Demography and Director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights, Penn State

“Diversity in K-12 education is vital if our nation is to function as a multiracial democracy. All students benefit from diversity. Diversity in K-12 is even more urgent in light of the Court’s decision if we are to address inequities along racial lines that undermine higher education access, including resource disparities like inequitable access to experienced educators.” – Janel George, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Racial Equity in Education Law (REEL) Policy Clinic, Georgetown Law

“All students deserve the opportunity to attend schools that are not only well-resourced but also diverse; both elements are critical to ensure equal educational opportunity. After today’s opinion, it’s more important than ever that ELC remains steadfast in our commitment to ensure that PK-12 schools provide students of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds a fair shot to attend college and realize their full potential.” – Robert Kim, Executive Director, Education Law Center

“It is essential that K-12 educational leaders double down on their school integration efforts, using the many tools available to them to promote racial and socioeconomic diversity in order to prepare students for success in and after high school. The Century Foundation’s Bridges Collaborative has supported leaders from nearly 50 different school districts and charter schools across the country in promoting racial and socioeconomic integration in their schools and communities, and we stand ready to work with more.” – Stefan Lallinger, Executive Director of Next100 and Senior Fellow, and Halley Potter, Pre-K-12 Education Team and Bridges Collaborative Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation

“In the face of today’s Supreme Court setback, we will continue our work to ensure all students can bring their whole, authentic selves to the college admissions process. We reaffirm IDRA’s 50-year commitment to support students of color in overcoming persistent inequalities in K-12 education that create unfair barriers to college.” – Celina Moreno, President and CEO, Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA)

“The Court has made a terrible historic error by telling the nation’s colleges to abandon what their experience has shown them are essential to preserving integration and opportunity. To reduce the loss of talent, educational leaders and policymakers must do all they can to help offset the rising college barriers for students of color. A first step should be a plan of action to repair the shamefully unequal preparation and counseling offered in our segregated high schools and increase access to strong magnet schools. When one gate slams shut, we must start opening others.” – Gary Orfield, Distinguished Research Professor of Education, Law, Political Science, and Urban Planning and Co-Director of The Civil Rights Project, UCLA

“As legally misguided and ahistorical as the Supreme Court’s decision may be, it does not impede the goal of racial and economic integration in K-12 schools. We need to persevere in our commitment to the goal of inclusive and diverse communities and schools.” – Philip Tegeler, Executive Director, Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)


For media inquiries, please contact: Jenna Tomasello (

Founded in 2009, the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is a cross-sector network of 50+ national civil rights organizations, university-based research centers, and state and local coalitions working to expand support for school integration. NCSD supports its members in designing, enacting, implementing, and uplifting PK-12 public school integration policies and practices so we may build cross-race/class relationships, share power and resources, and co-create new realities.

Event: #CiteNite (5/22/23)

Our first #CiteNite will draw from NCSD’s recent research brief, “Accountability Systems and the Persistence of School Segregation: Research Evidence and Future Directions.”

Hear from authors James Noonan (Salem State University) and Peter Piazza (School Diversity Notebook), as well as experts Raquel Muñiz (Boston College) and David Martínez (University of South Carolina) on the topic of assessment and accountability as we explore the implications of the brief.

#CiteNite has been in the works for a long time, and is a collaboration with the School Diversity Notebook. It’s designed to be a quarterly discussion about research that can help guide and connect the school integration movement.

Register here.

If you’re a researcher or practitioner with an idea for a future #CiteNite topic, please get in touch!


Related Materials:



Event: Rodriguez Twitter Chat (3/20/23)

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973) 50th Anniversary: Exploring the Link Between School Funding and Segregation

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court school funding case, San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973), this NCSD and IDRA Twitter chat aims to spark a conversation around the link between school funding and segregation. The Rodriguez case primarily held that Texas’ school finance system, based on property taxes, did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, despite producing stark inequities in funding between districts. The Rodriguez Court made two other important findings: that education is not a “fundamental right” under the U.S. Constitution, nor is a person’s income status a protected class.

Today, policies that tie funding levels to local property taxes remain a standard practice. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in FY20, nearly half (44.9%) of all U.S. public school revenue came from local funding, comprised mainly of property taxes. Since Rodriguez, however, state-level school finance litigation and policy reforms have caused shifts in the landscape over the last 50 years. Have these efforts successfully addressed the concerns at issue in Rodriguez?

To what extent does continued reliance on local property taxes systematically deny students living in areas of concentrated poverty equitable and/or adequate school funding? What would it take for all children to have access to diverse, well-resourced schools? What are the barriers to making this a reality? These are just a few of the questions we’ll explore during the chat.

#RodriguezAt50 Twitter Chat – Join us at @diverse_schools on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 1:00pm ET

School Transportation Fact Sheet (February 2023)

Our latest fact sheet compiles news about four places that have been grappling with school transportation challenges and describes implications for integration, equity, and student success.

Event: Student Performance and Panel Discussion (1/27/23)

“Brilliance isn’t allocated along zip code but often your race is.”

On Friday, January 27, 2023, Learn Together, Live Together (LTLT) and the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) will host the first-ever live performance and panel discussion of Between the Lines, a student-led play created by Epic Theatre Ensemble youth artist-researchers. The play, which was commissioned by NCSD and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), explores the connection between housing policy and segregation/inequity in schools. Following a live performance, a panel of experts will provide additional context from their legal, research, advocacy, and educator perspectives. The youth performers and panelists will engage in a moderated discussion, followed by an audience Q&A period.

Panelists include:

  • Matthew Di Carlo, Senior Fellow, Albert Shanker Institute
  • Aderson Francois, Professor of Law; Director, Institute for Public Representation Civil Rights Law Clinic, Georgetown Law
  • Meredith Morelle, Managing Director of National Programs, Kindred
  • Sandra Vanderbilt, Assistant Professor of Research Methods, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University

This in-person event is free and open to the public, masks are optional but encouraged, and light refreshments will be provided. A livestream option is also available for virtual attendees.

More information and registration here.

Accountability Systems and School Segregation (January 2023)

Our newest research brief, “Accountability Systems and the Persistence of School Segregation: Research Evidence and Future Directions,” looks at recent empirical research to consider what, if any, relationship exists between systems of accountability and the persistence of school segregation. Written by James Noonan and Peter Piazza.

New NCSD Fact Sheet (September 2022)

In this new NCSD fact sheet, we summarize several recent studies and reports that further underscore the importance of K-12 school integration, including:

Update Re: Challenges to School Integration in Virginia

Via NCSD’s April 2022 newsletter.

“The Board is aware of no decision of any appellate court — and the Coalition has cited none — holding that public education authorities violate the Equal Protection Clause by adopting race-neutral student admissions criteria in order to promote increased socioeconomic and racial diversity.”

–Donald Verrilli, Jr.
Representing the Fairfax County School Board attorney(and former U.S. Solicitor General) in response to an emergency request from the Coalition for TJ et al to ask the Supreme Court to put a stay on the 4th Circuit’s ruling

“Every student has a right to a fair shot at receiving an excellent education, regardless of their income, where they grew up, or their racial and ethnic background. But for well over a decade, the TJ admission process failed to identify all Black, Latino, and underserved Asian American students with the aptitude to excel. It would have been a serious mistake — and, as the court’s order notes, contrary to Supreme Court precedent — to allow this fairer system to be enjoined.”

Statement by NAACP Legal Defense Fund,
Asian Americans Advancing Justice,
and Latino Justice PRLDEF in response to 4th Circuit ruling

On April 25th, the Supreme Court rejected a request for emergency relief from the Coalition for TJ to stop Thomas Jefferson High School administrators from using a new admissions policy for TJ’s Class of 2026. The request had been joined by Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares and Republican attorneys general from 15 states.


As described in the New York Times, the most well-known case currently challenging admissions changes at competitive schools is Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board. The plaintiffs in the case claim that non-race-based criteria (such as reducing reliance on test scores) at Thomas Jefferson High School, intended to achieve greater racial diversity in the student body, are subject to strict scrutiny under the 14th Amendment because of a foreseeable reduction in the percentage of students in one or more racial/ethnic groups (in this case, Asian-American students).

Previously, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that the Fairfax County School Board acted with discriminatory intent in its efforts to increase the representation of Black and Latino students at Thomas Jefferson. As a result, the judge enjoined school administrators from using the policy. On appeal, a Fourth Circuit panel granted a stay of the ruling, allowing implementation of the new admissions policy to go forward.

Why Does It Matter?

The original decision from the Eastern District of Virginia federal court is very troubling since the school district was following the Supreme Court’s 2007 majority opinion from the Parents Involved case in its efforts to increase racial diversity at the school (for example, allocating a significant number of seats to the highest-ranking students at each feeder middle school in the region and eliminating test scores as the deciding factor in awarding seats to the remaining applicants).

The Supreme Court’s refusal to stop the enactment of the policy while this case is under appeal is promising. However, the Supreme Court might eventually hear the case and issue a new standard for how public schools go about achieving racial and socioeconomic diversity. The Supreme Court is preparing to consider challenges to the holistic affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A decision in those cases, though governed by a different set of legal precedents, could have an effect on diversity efforts in K-12 schools.

Related News:

  • Divided Supreme Court Allows Selective High School’s Diversity Policy by Greg Stohr (Bloomberg, April 25) – “’This court has long recognized that seeking to improve diversity — including geographic, socioeconomic, and racial diversity — is not the same as pursuing racial balancing, and that the former goal may be pursued through race-neutral methods,’ the school board argued.”

NCSD Policy Update: Lots of news this past month!

Via NCSD’s March 2022 newsletter.

The new Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) funding notice was released in the Federal Register, and it includes some important diversity-related provisions – a strong focus on supporting voluntary or mandatory desegregation plans, encouraging inter-district and whole school magnets, and coordination with housing and transportation agencies (including HUD’s public housing redevelopment programs).

Senator Chris Murphy and Representative Joe Courtney (both of Connecticut) released the “Magnet Schools Accessibility, Growth, and Non-exclusionary Enrollment Transformation Act of 2022,” which would increase magnet school funding and lock in many of the strong policy elements in the current funding notice (or “NOFA”) that the Department of Education has the discretion to include, but which other administrations have the discretion to ignore. The proposed bill would also include a supplemental funding stream for continuation funding of magnet schools that perform well in achieving the program’s goals. See what Magnet Schools of America had to say about the bill.

The 2022 budget was passed in both the Senate and House, with a $15 million increase in MSAP funding (to $124 million).

Although the Fostering Diverse Schools grants did not make it into the final FY 22 budget bill, Congress instructed (see pg. 123) the Department to prioritize capacity building and technical assistance funds under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program (SSAE) to state and local educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs) seeking to create and sustain integration. We were also happy to see Fostering Diverse Schools in the FY 23 budget request (see pg. 58)…stay tuned!

RB 15: Do School Choice Programs Contribute to the Resegregation of American Schools (April 2022)

NCSD’s newest research brief, authored by Casey Cobb, summarizes research about the effects of school choice programs and their differential designs on school diversity.
Main takeaway: “[T]he evidence shows that if school choice programs cannot or do not pay attention to social class and race, they generally increase segregation among schools. That is, racially and ethnically diverse schools become less diverse under unregulated choice plans. Parents who enjoy social and economic advantages manage to maintain those advantages, especially in unregulated school choice programs. School choice policies consistently provide an advantage to the dominant cultural group (Cobb & Irizarry, 2020).”