In "Discontentment in search of a voice" (TES, October 21) you listed some flashpoints relating to the legitimate aspirations of Muslims. The Jenny Carney case in 1991 was certainly a highlight in the history of race relations in this country. The only ruling, however, that the High Court made in respect of "a Cleveland parent" was that in wishing to move her child to a school with very few Asian children, Jenny Carney was not racially motivated.
The judge went on to consider the case of a real racist (ie a parent concerned with the racial characteristics of children and not the curriculum offered by the school). He ruled that a parent who wished to move his child for this reason would not be in breach of the Race Relations Act 1976 (RRA), and in any case any possible breach of the RRA would be "saved" by Section 6 of the 1980 Education Act relating to parental choice.
The Commission for Racial Equality was forced to admit in court that it was just as reprehensible to seek mixed race as racially segregated schools. The lesson is that we should think of schooling not in racial, but in curriculum terms. The curriculum, being a selection from culture, always involves choice. Parents' rights to choice are paramount. They should only be overridden by practical constraints such as the need for economic efficiency.
The Parental Alliance for Choicein Education
2 Kingsdown House