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The Mock Trial Test

Memo to: California Department of Education (CDE)

Date: October 12, 2014

Re: Segregation in Schools due to Socioeconomic Status

Relevant Supreme Court case(s) (if applicable):
Sheff v ONeill
Brown v BOE
Swann v Charlotte Mecklenburg BOE

Economic issue(s) (if applicable):
Minorities make less money and this leads to a lack of good education because they
have to attend neighborhood schools
Free market ideal

News summary:
After Brown v BOE, segregated schools were deemed illegal. Most thought this would be
the end of it. However, it turns out minorities are less likely to attend desegregated
schools now more than ever before, especially in California, New York and Texas.
According to a report by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA: 43% of Latinos and 38% of
blacks go to schools where less than 10% of their peers are white. For every seven black
and latino students, more than one of them will attend a school where less than 1% of
their classmates are white. This makes minorities twice as likely as white (or Asian)
students to go to a school where the majority of the students are poor. This is by
definition, segregation. Children are going to their neighborhood schools where the
majority of the students are the same race. The academic results from these schools are
also abysmal compared to the results from the richer schools, which is due to a lot of
different factors, including the quality of the teachers and lack of resources. There have
been plenty of lawsuits regarding this issue, including Sheff v. ONeill and Swann v.
Charlotte Mecklenburg BOE. However, the solutions set out for them have yet to be
successful. There exist programs that hope to mix up students from different
neighborhoods, such as the magnet program. Their primary purpose is: To reduce the
minority group isolation and to close the achievement gap.

Sources consulted:
Brown v. BOE
Swann v. BOE
Sheff v. ONeill
General info:
More specific:

To whoever it may concern from the California Department of Education,
According to a report by UCLA, California has one of the most segregated school
systems in the United States. This is because in the public school system,
socioeconomic status dictates what school a child attends. People live where they can
afford to live, and every address is assigned a neighborhood school. It is a fact that
minorities tend to live around the same areas, both because its where they can afford to
live and because it is human nature to surround oneself with people similar to us, but
this has turned neighborhood schools into segregated schools, where the majority of the
students are a certain race. This is a deeply rooted issue and I urge you to start
attempting to solve it through our schools. Brown v. BOE fought to overturn preexisting
laws that allowed segregation, and it is our job to ensure their effort were not in vain. I
am not the first to attempt this, there have been two court cases already that have
attempted to desegregate Americas schools, Swann v. BOE and Sheff v. ONeill. They
both succeeded to convince the court something must be done, but the court ruled that
an idea of how to desegregate the schools was not theirs to come up with and they
required that they each come up with their own ideas. And unfortunately, their plans
were unsuccessful.
To successfully address this issue, I recommend that you no longer assign
neighborhood schools. Every individual must have a right to choose what school they
wish to attend. This is implementing the idea of a free market to the education system,
which I believe to be the best choice because if schools are required to win over their
students, they will by nature, do the best they can to prove they are the best choice. I
believe this will end segregation because it will allow individuals to go to schools outside
of their neighborhoods if the other school looks appealing to them, and therefore
increase racial diversity in those current neighborhood schools that are made up of
mostly one race.
To be successful in doing this, I advise you to continue funding the magnet
program, and improving it so its focused on making unattractive schools perform
exceptionally well in order to attract students from other neighborhoods. I also advise
you to find a way to send the best teachers in the state to underprivileged schools,
because it is yet another way to attract students from other neighborhoods. This could
be done by raising the pay of those teachers or by creating a program that pays off those
teachers student debt. And lastly, in order for this all to work, I urge you to fund a
program that provides all students with transportation to the school of their choice. This
program must be free and available to all students.
By putting this all to practice, I believe that it is not far fetched to believe that
segregation would decrease exponentially. And as a cherry on top, schools will begin to
perform to the best of their abilities. It is stated in the Declaration of Independence that
all men are created equal. When not all children have access to equal education because
of their socioeconomic status, their right is being violated. Segregation, as Brown v. BOE
proved, is unconstitutional, therefore I believe that this is an issue that you must address
as soon and as effectively as you can, because it is of most importance that our nation
remain true to its Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Hints to students:
Keep your recommendations to 1000 words or less.
Keep your eye on the likely goals of the leader that you chose.
You memo might be dated in the past, present or future.
Be sure to consider the need for direct evidence from reliable sources and primary
Be sure to consider important ideas from class and everything is fair game. You might
important foundational documents,
landmark Supreme Court cases,
current Supreme Court cases yet to be decided, or
important political and/or economic terms and concepts you learned in class.

Helpful resources:
The current argument calendars
Most major newspapers let your search their archives (if you are using a landmark case
from the past)
Check the digital archives of the Washington Post, the New York Times, Chicago
Tribune, etc.
You might also find good stuff at chronicalingamerica (its part of the Library of
Make sure you read the news if you would like to write about a current case!
Scotusblog is great for recent, current or upcoming Supreme Court cases.
be sure to check the main page, as well as Plain English and Resources
Landmark Supreme Court cases
The Constitution @ the White House