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Public school students in Indiana are receiving privileges based on their race more than sixty years after the United States Supreme Court ruled that such practices violate the Constitution. Students in South Bend are separated by race for "black only" field trips to colleges.

The discriminatory practice hearkens back to the era of Jim Crow, when de facto segregation prevented blacks from enjoying the same rights as whites on buses, in restaurants, hotels and schools, giving black students an advantage at the expense of their white classmates.

District officials point to the low numbers of black graduates who go on to attend college as creating a special need for black students that does not extend to white, Asian or Latino students.

The director of African-American student and parent services for the public school district in South Bend, Indiana, himself an African-American, says the practice is justified.

“I want these third graders to think of themselves as college students,” he said, but does not explain how allowing all third-graders to go on the field trips would prevent black students from “thinking of themselves as college students."

The black students have traveled from South Bend to nearby Bethel College and Ivy Technical College on the Illinois border where they have the opportunity to meet black college students. Moss says, “They model the idea that, as a black person, college is a great place.”

While claiming that the “Black Only” college field trips “were meant to give these kids what they need to think positively about their future.” Moss did not reveal what alternate college-oriented activities were provided for white students who, presumably, also need to think positively about their future.

The South Bend, Indiana public school district is supported entirely by taxpayers, with the effect that white parents are bearing the expense for field trips their children are prohibited from attending.

Parent opinion in the district was divided, not altogether a surprise given the school policy of dividing the students.


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