The first study comparing the long-term effectiveness of voluntary desegregation plans with magnet programs to mandatory reassignment plans
The Carrot or the Stick for School Desegregation Policy
Magnet Schools or Forced Busing
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Christine H. Rossell
This is the first study comparing the long-term effectiveness of voluntary desegregation plans with magnet programs to mandatory reassignment plans. In a survey of school personnel and parents in 119 school districts, Christine H. Rossell finds that the voluntary plans with incentives (magnets) ultimately produce more interracial exposure than the mandatory plans. Her conclusion contradicts three decades of research that judged mandatory reassignment plans more effective than voluntary plans in desegregating schools.
Rossell examines the evolution of school desegregation and addresses a number of issues with regard to public policy. She questions how to measure the effectiveness of school desegregation remedies, suggesting interracial exposure as a criterion because it reflects the white flight that threatens to minimize the effects of such programs. She analyzes the characteristics of magnet schools that are attractive to white and black parents and the effect of magnet schools on the quality of education.
The magnet plans studied here are qualitatively different from the old freedom-of-choice plans implemented in the South and majority-to-minority plans implemented in the North in the 1950s and 1960s. Rossell compares this public choice model of policy-making with previous mandatory efforts and examines court decisions that indicate a growing belief in the effectiveness of voluntary compliance for achieving school desegregation.
"A significant achievement.... Assembling the most comprehensive data base and the most persuasive analysis to date on relative effectiveness of voluntary versus mandatory desegregation plans, Rossell concludes not only that mandatory desegregation techniques cause long-term white flight, but also that the white loss is large enough to render 'mandatory magnet' plans less effective than 'voluntary magnet' plans."
"A very well-written analysis of...a topic of major policy significance...to policy researchers, educational policy-makers, lawyers and judges, sociologists, and members of the sophisticated public involved in school desegregation matters."
1. The Past and the Future of School Desegregation Remedies
2. Defining School Desegregation and Its Goal
3. A Comparison of Voluntary and Mandatory Desegregation Plans
4. What Is Attractive About Magnet Schools?
5. What Have School Desegregation Plans Accomplished?
6. Conclusions and Recommendations
Christine H. Rossell is Professor of Political Science at Boston University and the co-editor of The Consequences of School Desegregation (Temple).