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8th Circuit Considers Whether Little Rock Schools Are Still Entitled to Desegregation ‘Carrot’

Posted Sep 19, 2011 9:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court will hear arguments today on whether three Arkansas schools districts are entitled to continue collecting money for desegregation.

The state pays the school districts about $70 million a year under a 1989 desegregation settlement, report the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. The districts are Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County.

According to the AP story, the schools “have come a long way since 1957, when the governor and hundreds of protesters famously tried to stop the Little Rock Nine from entering Central High School. But thousands of white and black children still have to be bused to different neighborhoods every day under one of the nation's largest remaining court-ordered desegregation systems.”

Some of the district schools remain segregated, reflecting their surrounding neighborhoods. In May, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller said the state payments should end because they reward the school districts for dragging their feet on achieving integration. North Little Rock and Pulaski County, he said, had actually delayed desegregation to get the money, showing the failure of the carrot-and-stick approach.

“The districts are wise mules that have learned how to eat the carrot and sit down on the job,” he wrote. “The time has finally come for all carrots to be put away." The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) carried a story on Miller’s decision in June.

Arguments in the appeal of Miller’s ruling will be held today in the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Law Blog.

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