So the school board voted 4-3 to approve the second reading (of three) of the diversity policy, but only after board members emphasized that any major changes (for example, in attendance areas) would require further board approval. I think that’s a good outcome; my main concern was that the board was delegating too much policymaking power to the superintendent. There’s no harm in having the superintendent propose a plan that would then need board approval. The drafters should have made that clear in the wording of the policy.
On the other hand, that means the policy is effectively just lip service until the board approves an actual plan. The board’s not bound by the policy in any meaningful sense; future boards, or even this board, can choose to follow it or to ignore, amend, or repeal it. It’s easy to imagine “listening posts” ten years from now in which speakers say, “It’s been ten years since the board adopted its diversity policy, and we still haven’t seen any changes.”
I do think the policy’s supporters missed (another) opportunity to present a vision of how the district could implement the policy. Board members who supported the plan went out of their way to say that they did not intend to use large-scale busing of kids to meet the diversity goals. Some made statements (reported here and here) that seemed to imply that any changes in boundaries would be grandfathered—though it’s not clear how that’s consistent with the explicit deadlines contained in the policy. In any event, by only telling us what they wouldn’t do, and not what they would do, proponents of the policy unnecessarily allowed its opponents to define it.