Segregating Duluth

In preparation for writing a book about what led up to this last disasterous year I found a couple interesting tidbits after dusting off my old Red Plan records.

First, was a 6/15/2007 News Tribune editorial calling for a division of the School District into halves along Lake Avenue and opposing a division of the School District at 14th Ave East. The editors were worried that a 14th Ave division would cause “a serious demographic imbalance between the two schools along racial and economic lines.” Perhaps its most important to remember their hearts were in the right place despite the fact there was no way any east west division could avoid this result. They concluded their editorial bravely:

“Fifty-three years of experience gone right and wrong since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education have shown unquestionably that racially defined school districts affect the demographics of neighborhoods and vice versa….It’s time to do the right thing and unite Duluth.”

Eight years and half a billion dollars later the Trib’s hopes have been utterly dashed. 2007 was the year I began speaking out against the Red Plan. It prompted me to run again for the School Board that year. The Paper ended up endorsing my opponent, a supporter of the Red Plan, who helped bring about just what the editors feared would happen. I lost. Now eight years later, my opponent is stepping down from the Board pleased with its many successes. Equity is not one of them.

Six months after my defeat on April, 12th of 2008 the DNT published my defense of Mike Jaros who had been attacked by the Tribune for expressing the very same sentiments that had motivated the Editorial Board the previous year. I said in part:

“There is only one problem with the red plan that the top dogs have conceded. It will, according to a map sent by the district to the Minnesota Department of Education, split Duluth along 14th Avenue East into rich / poor, high minority / low minority halves. There is a great irony in this and Jaros knows it well. His law originally allowed some building without referenda for, among other reasons, to encourage integration. It’s ironic because the red plan kills our integration program and segregates Duluth. It completely violates the spirit of Jaros’s law. Over time the red plan will impoverish Jaros’s western District as its prosperous residence flee to eastern Duluth. Shiny new schools will not stem this Exodus.

The News Tribune‚Äôs passive-aggressive criticism of Jaros is an embarrassment. Instead, the newspaper should be asking the same questions that Jaros has been asking. Why should the voters in Jaros’s district pay taxes to segregate themselves from the rest of the city? And why should they give up their right to vote?”

I truly hope that whoever steps into the shoes of our departing school board members steps up with their eyes wide open and a willingness to peep under the rug that their predecessors nailed to the floor.

The book, should I undertake and complete it, will be written to help pay for Art Johnston’s legal bills. I will send a copy of my book to any contributor who makes a donation exceeding $20 dollars to the cause of free speech. You can make a donation on line here.

3,000 books should cover the cost. Twenty bucks is a helluva lot less than anyone, especially our children, is having to pay for the Red Plan.

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