Community Control, Public Policy, and the Limits of Law

This Article deals with those two points of conflict-disputes about governance, race, and political power; and constitutional concerns, rooted in Brown v. Board of Education, about racially heterogeneous education. Both are central to understanding, and to giving content to, the disagreements about community control. The questions about power provide a context within which to understand the terms of the debate. The constitutional discussion suggests some inevitable judicial difficulties in resolving disputes that emerge from the debate. Such questions are increasingly before the courts, whose decisions may alter the bounds of acceptable conduct in ways that permit or deny the legitimacy of new arrangements such as community control, or for that matter old arrangements such as de facto segregation.

This Article begins with a foray into the social context of the control question, noting briefly the competing social philosophies that form the basis for discussion. It then examines the constitutional questions, reconsidering the implications of the ambiguous equal-educational-opportunity standard in light of the debate over control, and stressing the difficulties that the courts will encounter in coping with these matters.