Sunday, June 26, 2022

Bill Crawford: Questions Remain as Ayers Settlement Ends

The 1975 Ayers higher education desegregation case ends June 30.

Well, maybe.

Thirty years ago this month the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the Ayers case back to federal district court. For four of us just appointed to the IHL Board by Gov. Kirk Fordice, dealing with Ayers would dominate our entire 12-year terms.

The Supreme Court ordered the district court to see if “vestiges” of the state’s de jure system of segregation remained and, if so, address them, particularly for admissions standards, program duplication, and mission statements. At the same time, the court rejected the notion that upgrades could be made to Alcorn State, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State solely so they could better serve black students.

For eight years the board fought in district court with the plaintiffs over vestiges and how to remedy them. After the court rejected proposed remedies related to closing or merging institutions, the board decided to settle. Many Mississippi leaders and educators wanted to put race-oriented court fights behind us.  

In 2000, I was among the group that negotiated a nominal $503 million 17-year settlement with court-appointed plaintiff representative Cong. Bennie Thompson. However, the board had to wrestle in court for another four years with a rump group of plaintiffs and the court itself to get the settlement finally approved.

That 17-year payout period began July 1, 2004, right after our terms expired, and ends this week. (The Legislature authorized spending some remaining funds this coming year).

In addition to finalizing steps to remedy vestiges, the settlement included expenditures intended to make ASU, JSU, and MVSU more competitive and diverse – $245,880 for academic programs, $75 million for facilities, $55 million for endowment enhancements, and $6.25 million for student financial assistance along with $2.25 million for plaintiff attorneys’ fees and $83.8 million for other court-ordered expenditures. Additionally there was a $35 million “best effort” commitment to raise private endowment funds (only $1,036,600 was raised after the four-year settlement delay). Universities’ control of endowment funds required them to attain 10% other-race enrollment (not African-American) for three consecutive years.

So how did all this turn out?

The settlement incorporated improvements to admissions standards, program duplication, and mission statements, created and strengthened programs, added and improved buildings, and increased endowments. But what about improved competitiveness and diversity?

ASU and JSU enjoyed initial surges in enrollment but fell back. By 2021 enrollment at all three universities had fallen below 2004 levels: ASU down 11%, JSU down 15% and MVSU down 43%. That was also true for Delta State, down 32%, and USM, down 7%. Only MSU, UM, and MUW were up, 45%, 32%, and 11% respectively.

Number of degrees awarded, an effectiveness indicator, showed ASU and JSU improved by awarding 28% and 30% more degrees in 2021 than 2004 despite lower enrollment; MVSU awarded fewer degrees, down 6%. Other universities were up: MUW 117%, UM 90%, MSU 52%, DSU 11%, and USM 5%.

Other-race enrollment temporarily hit 10% at ASU and JSU but fell back below 6% by 2021. MVSU finally surpassed 10% in 2021 reaching 11.8%.

Such results lead to questions: Why didn’t the settlement have more significant impact? Will there now be more litigation?

“Let us examine our ways and test them” – Lamentations 3:40.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson



Anonymous said...

Glad you posted this Kingfish! It has been on my mind as an elected official, and a topic I now have a little time to delve into it. It will be interesting to see the graft that has happened, I have an attachment to one of the HBCUs and know how the money was “spent” assuming it similar at the rest. This settlement parallels the city of Jackson with their $92 million they just got for the water/sewer contract, which was arguably the cities own fault with their BS minority ( a local philosopher) contracts. Just like the rest of education in this State, a blank check is not the answer nor will it solve problems when you have subpar educational leaders. Just because someone has Dr. In front of their name doesn’t mean they can run a mini corporation.

Anonymous said...

The plaintiffs in the Ayers litigation always struck me as being in conflict with themselves: it’s not right that the state’s universities are segregated into black and white, but we want to maintain our Historically Black Universities.
Make up your mind.

Anonymous said...

Our plethora of university level educational institutions will assure none will ever reach the student populations of neighboring states. That is simply a fact we will be foreced to endure for many years to come. Maybe it is for the best.. I just don't know.

Anonymous said...

So how much of the $503,000,000 went into Thompsons pocket?

Anonymous said...

Lots of condos and luxury cars were funded through this scam, right Bennie?

Anonymous said...

The dynamic duo race hustlers Sharpton and Jackson didn't cash in? Tell me it's not true.

Anonymous said...

1:49 From beginning to end the Ayers case presented one troubling question the state and the IHL could never answer: The status of Jackson State. Even when the argument of a race-neutral system without unnecessary program duplication was made and accepted, nothing logical could explain the state's obvious efforts to starve JSU of competitive programs. With it's location in the most populous area of the state and it's propensity for growth (when funded) only one explanation could be made: Race. The state sidestepped the inevitable moment of truth by offering a sell-out "settlement" to sell-out representatives of the "plaintiffs". The sell-out settlement maintained the status quo and eliminated the possibilities of giant upheaval suggested by plaintiff's advocates such as Alvin Chambliss who suggested JSU control the central Mississippi academic region including the University Medical Center and even review of the state's efforts to aid Miss. College in acquiring the Jackson School of Law at the expense of JSU. It was the State and the IHL which denied a color-blind system and denied JSU the chance to be a university without limitation like UM and MSU. That is the chief accomplishment of the Ayers settlement.

Anonymous said...

USM's degrees awarded up only 5%? What happened - convertable car sales must be down significantly. Degrees being tossed in while driving down Hardy Street significantly harder with the surge of SUVs

Anonymous said...

Ah, there's nothing like watching educational bigotry on display.

Anonymous said...

College admission standards are a joke in MS thanks to Ayers. Each school should be able to set its own standard for entry. The HBCU’s in MS will never be in serious consideration for respected degrees and it isn’t race as the cause. It’s ROI, as in what is the return a graduate receives in terms of income for the amount invested in student loans. All of the MS HBCUs are way down the list in terms of ROI. As long as a JSU or Alcorn or Valley degree is seen as less than OM or MSU in terms of income potential, nothing changes. If I’m a high GPA/Act score minority from MS, why would I choose a school whose degree may (will) be viewed as inferior?

Anonymous said...

Individuals are free to voluntarily segregate themselves along racial lines, if they choose to do so. They are also free to go to any school that accepts them.

Anonymous said...

The real truth is somewhere in the details of Crawford's paragraph beginning with "In 2000...." and ending with "...finally approved". There's lots of wheeling and dealing in between. In the end the plaintiffs got nothing they wouldn't have gotten anyway and the state got a monkey off it's back. So who got paid?

Anonymous said...

USM degrees up 5%? That's a rounding error.

Anonymous said...

Let’s assume JSU had gotten the Med School and a Law School. With the leadership that has “led” Jackson for the last 25? Years where would they be? Im not being critical of JSU but with that much money at stake the same group that has taken over the city would have jumped in with oth feet.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about the Ayers case was that it enabled more than a few pretty little Russian girls to leave the Soviet Union and attend Alcorn State on minority scholarships.

Granted, it was a different universe between Moscow and Lorman.
But they liked to drive down to Natchez and party on the weekend.

(They could also hold their liquor better than most guys their age).

Great times!

Anonymous said...

Wow, the 3 colleges raised an endowment of over $1 million?

How much was earned by consultants to raise the $1 million? I'd guess $7 million or so.

Anonymous said...

3:34 Mississippi College acquired the Jackson School of Law around 1975. The price was a pittance - I talked to Mary Libby Payne. To whom did you speak?

By the way, you're full of bovine excrement.

Anonymous said...

The learned lawyer over in Columbus, Wilbur Colom, esq, who did most of the work on Ayers, really pissed in his whiskey with all that recruitment and enrollment crap. The court, being no fools, ruled that JSU's success in recruiting 'light skinned' Europeans (from other countries) would not count toward the decreed recruitment demands of the case.

I know quite a few caucasians who (THEN) hustled over to JSU and got themselves diploomers,specialist degrees and assorted required courses enabling them to step up their resumes and salaries.

In the long term, however, we all know that changing the state flag and hiring Neon Deion gonna change everything.

Meanwhile, after 35 years, nothing has changed at any of the HBCU locations. WHY? Because the courts nor just regular white people can change anything in the black community.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi's IHL is a joke at best. They try and strong arm the universities when they would be better off on their own.

Anonymous said...

7:59 Please remember these are not private schools or even autonomous institutions. They are run at the direction of the IHL. None including Ole Miss and State are run independently by their own board. The IHL is the Board of Directors. They make the mission statements and they appoint/approve all leadership. All leadership. They decide the pecking order for funding and program/institutional development. The IHL Board IS Alcorn. The IHL Board IS Jackson State. And the IHL Board IS Ole Miss. Simple as that. They set this up, they decide to keep it going as they want it. Ayers did not change that. Keep it in mind when you make comparisons.

Anonymous said...

12:14 Absolutely. Ask Ms. Payne if they knew the state could bought Jackson School of Law for a "pittance" or bought it from MC cheap before they had facilities. Why not? Really why not? You know.

Anonymous said...

The States that efficiently spend education dollars are consolidated and don't compete for limited monies. They benefit from pooling together on equipment needs and educational tools, in and out of the classroom.
They haven't had to lower their acceptance standards and accept students with little to no hope of graduation.
More importantly, they don't have more than the number of publicly supported universities than their population needs. Mississippi does to support one of the limited systems that generate jobs and feeds the political parties with supporters.

A State this poor should not be duplicating government expenses and wasting tax dollars...federal or State...the way Mississippi does.
The irony is that the "elite" families in Mississippi are supporting the very politicians who have felt scorned by them for decades. You will be no more immune than the " liberals" you love to hate when the crazies and criminals of the current GOP seek rewards for their "loyalty".
You'll be "hunted RINOs". You status will be coveted, and your record of loyalty is in the machines and paper with no name attached and requires research. It's your property and assets that are visible! You've already turned against those who made it possible for there to be a viable GOP in MS including Crawford and Salter.

Anonymous said...

10:56 - Better yet, axe her about the makeup of the board at that time. Before the board, well, you know.

If we're not careful (you know) we'll wind up with boards, courts, municipal management being 100% reversed and we'll have folk not showing up, falsifying travel statements and flying off to places like, you know, Paris.

You give some folk a toe-hole, they gone get they whole leg in the Doe.

It's that whole 'it's our turn' thang. Barney Fife showed us you juss can't put some depooties at the big desk. You can look at folk and tell they juss ain't, you know, cut out. Could be a big forehead or one ear ain't on level with the other. The medula is affected and also the oblandolah.

Anonymous said...

Ayer’s started out being about integration, but it changed over time to being about money. Separate but equal.

Anonymous said...

3:40 No thank you. Ayers started out being about equal and equitable FUNDING. It was turned on it's head to be about "integration" becasue the defendants (State and Inst. of Higher Learning) knew that was a battle the HBCU could never win. Not in the South. The Ayers plaintiffs did not give a damn abouit bringing wihite students into HBCU's they wanted HBCU's to get comeptitive programs and funding so that they could compete and attract anybody regardless of color. That was the argument. They ended up getting no integration and no more money than they would have gotten in the normal course. A loss except for certain individuals who managed the "settlement".

Anonymous said...

The plaintiffs went broke. If they had hired Morgan and Morgan on a contingency fee it would be the Jackson State Medical Center, the Jackson State School of Law and the Alcorn State Ag Extension Service. They missed the boat.

Anonymous said...

Hey KF I think that was an ad @7:40 PM.

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