Segregated . . . Again

Twin Cities public schools have become racially resegregated in recent decades, limiting access to opportunities and concentrating low-income people in increasingly stressed cities and suburbs. University professor of law Myron Orfield argues that integrating schools and neighborhoods is not only a moral imperative, but key to regional vitality.  Related Links

By Kate Tyler
Photographs by Doug Knutson
From Spring 2010 issue
“All that purple . . . then suddenly those yellow squares—it just obsesses me,” Myron Orfield (B.A. ’83) says, springing up from a chair in his Mondale Hall office to point out a colorful poster-board map propped in a corner. Orfield, a professor of law and the director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Race and Poverty (IRP), has been soberly discussing Region: Planning the Future of the Twin Cities, his sweeping new book on the state of the metropolis, coauthored by IRP research director Thomas Luce and just out from the University of Minnesota Press. 

Until this moment, Orfield, dressed casually in a blue sweater and tan corduroys, has seemed every bit the buttoned-down policy wonk—thoughtful, earnest, low-key. Now he exudes the energy and passion that have prompted comparisons to Minnesota’s legendary Happy Warrior of 20th-century politics, the exuberant Hubert Humphrey (B.S. ’39), who was instrumental in the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. 


“It’s absolutely the wrong solution to hunker down within neighborhood boundaries. The idea that we can close the achievement gap without desegregating is simply wrong.”
    —Myron Orfield, University law professor, director of the U’s Institute on Race and Poverty, and member of the Washburn High School class of 1979.


The map, Orfield eagerly explains, is a specialized snapshot of the Twin Cities generated by Graphic Information Systems software. It shows the value of every parcel of land across the metropolitan area, “right down to the square meter and overlaid with data about race and ethnicity.”

Orfield darts his fingers over the map’s mazes of line and color. “Here’s the Minneapolis central business district, highly valuable land—purple here, here, here,” he says. “Then, bam! The value just falls off a cliff. That’s where the neighborhood turns from predominantly white to predominantly people of color.” Tapping the map, he continues, “Thriving communities . . . then just a block away, bam! Solid yellow. No capital, no investment, failing schools.

“It’s just profound,” Orfield continues, resettling in his chair. “It’s a pattern that holds across the metro area. Land that should be valuable but isn’t. Communities that should be thriving but are in great distress. Families trapped in places with few resources and fewer opportunities.”

A half-century after the Civil Rights movement and its landmark desegregation, fair housing, and antidiscrimination laws, the very word segregation may startle people, Orfield acknowledges. “People think, ‘The iron walls of racial discrimination are down, we have an African American president, we’re fine,’ ” he says. But as he and Luce document in their new book, segregation is “not only not better,” Orfield emphasizes, “it’s dramatically worse.”

The spread of segregation
Racial segregation is increasing in all of the 25 largest U.S. metros, Orfield says, but it’s happening at a much faster clip in the 16th largest, the Twin Cities. Neighborhoods and schools have remained more stubbornly segregated here, those once integrated have resegregated at alarming rates, and segregation is pushing steadily outward from cities to suburbs.

The causes of these trends are complex, says Orfield, a national authority on metropolitan growth. Segregation’s prime drivers include racial prejudice, housing-market discrimination, and misguided public planning and tax policies. And in the Twin Cities, Orfield says, segregation is exacerbated by mind-boggling government fragmentation that was once, but is no longer, well-managed by a muscular Metropolitan Council.

Over a career spanning law, politics, and academia, Orfield, 48, has been a leading proponent of “new regionalism,” which views cities and suburbs as parts of an interconnected mosaic requiring big-picture policy solutions. He became something of a hero for the cause during a 12-year stint in the Minnesota State Legislature. Just 28 years old when he was first elected, in 1991, on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor ticket, he served five terms in the Minnesota house and one in the state senate, representing the largely middle-class south Minneapolis neighborhood where he grew up.


“It’s a question of equity. . . . State law requires that public schools actively work to disrupt segregation. Why is it that charters—funded with public school dollars—are allowed to be segregated?”
    —Elona Street-Stewart, chair of the St. Paul Board of Education, photographed reading to a first-grade Ojibwe class at the American Indian Magnet School


Orfield brought a showman’s flair to his floor speeches, using mountains of data, slide shows, and innovative homemade maps to champion “smart growth” linked to distinctly Humphreyesque social ideals. He forged alliances that succeeded in making important reforms to the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning agency charged with operating the Metro Transit system, providing affordable housing, managing water treatment, and engaging the public in future growth planning, among other services. He also authored housing, transit, and land-use legislation aimed not only at making growth more orderly, balanced, and efficient, but also at making sure core cities and aging inner suburbs, home to most of the region’s low-income and minority populations, weren’t withering in the dust of exurban sprawl.

Making segregation a front-burner issue in regional planning is, for Orfield, as much a moral imperative as it is a smart-growth necessity. Orfield grew up one of six children in a white working-class family that talked progressive politics at the dinner table. He idolized his much older brother Gary, a 1960s Freedom Rider who went on to become a noted Civil Rights scholar. In 1975, Orfield joined the first integrated class at Minneapolis’s Washburn High School after it was desegregated by court order.

Also influential, he says, were his searing experiences in catastrophically poor neighborhoods while he was attending law school in Chicago. He spent months driving around with narcotics cops on some of the city’s meanest streets for a legal research project. “Suddenly, here I was in these desperately poor ghetto neighborhoods, places you could see had once been vibrant but now looked like the scene of a neutron bomb,” Orfield recalls. “I came to see that you can’t understand concentrated poverty detached from the legacy of racism and the social policies it spawned.”

Segregation realities
Rapid demographic changes have transformed the 11-county Twin Cities metro and its population of 3.5 million. The last decade brought rapid growth in African American, Asian, and Latino populations. Long home to the nation’s largest population of urban American Indians, the Twin Cities now also boasts its largest Somali and second-largest Hmong communities.

Orfield says the area’s growing diversity does not account for its nation-leading segregation spikes over the last decade. Resegregation has been especially fierce, he says: 56 percent of the neighborhoods that were integrated in 1980 became segregated in 2000 (compared with 43 percent in the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas). And of the region’s neighborhoods that were segregated in 1980, 83 percent were still segregated two decades later (compared to 69 percent nationally).

Yet if segregation in the Twin Cities today is worse than that of yesterday, “it also looks significantly different than it used to,” says Orfield. As racial diversity has expanded in the Twin Cities, fewer neighborhoods and schools qualify as “white segregated,” having more than 50 percent of students white, Orfield explains. At the same time, different communities of color are mixing with each other as never before. “But not with whites,” he says. “This is the new face of segregation: the mushrooming of multiethnic, nonwhite segregated schools and communities.”

According to Orfield, in 1992 the Twin Cities had nine nonwhite segregated schools, representing 1.5 percent of elementary students. By 2008, the metro area had 108 nonwhite segregated schools, representing 22 percent of the area’s elementary students.


“Can schools be good schools when they’re segregated? It’s a valid question. For me, it gets back to the importance of teaching and learning for a diverse society. . . . We cannot, as individual systems, address these issues on our own. We do need regional solutions.”
    —John Schultz, superintendent of the Hopkins School District


“Nonwhite segregated schools” are defined as schools with the share of black, Hispanic, or other students of color exceeding 50 percent, or schools with varying combinations of students of color and a share of white students less than 30 percent. “Integrated schools” are those with varying shares of black, Hispanic, and other students of color and more than 30 percent white students.

Race and poverty have always been entangled in segregation. Yet the roots of segregation are clearly race-based: Poor whites are “much less likely than poor people of color to live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty,” Orfield notes, while “the average black family making over $60,000 lives in a community with a higher poverty rate than the average white family making under $30,000.”

Economist Samuel Myers, the University’s Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice, confirms that segregation is not the result of people choosing neighborhoods aligned with their incomes and preferences or of “bad credit.” It’s the result of racial disparities in lending, discrimination in housing, and little enforcement of fair housing laws.

Segregation is, Orfield emphasizes, “about a fundamental divide in who has access to opportunity—jobs, decent housing, safe streets, good schools. Where you live determines your basic prospects in life. It’s hard to overestimate how devastating it is for families and children to be trapped in failing communities and struggling schools. Or how much it undermines the quality of life, competitive edge, and vitality of the entire region.”

Segregated schools are particularly harmful, Orfield says. Research has proven that high-poverty schools are overwhelmingly low-performing ones and that an “achievement gap” exists between students from impoverished backgrounds and those from more middle-class ones. Children in poor communities start out with fewer of the assets that boost achievement (from high-literacy homes to good health care). And their schools usually suffer from limited resources and inexperienced teachers.

Orfield has found that both neighborhoods and schools have predictable “turnover points” where rising minority percentages cause integration to halt and segregation to climb. “These points are quite modest,” he says. In a community in which the population is mostly white and black, for example, when the black population reaches around 30 percent the neighborhood tips and that percentage rapidly climbs. Middle-class white families are the first to flee, perceiving the shifts as a sign of school decline.

Segregation, in a nutshell, goes like this, Orfield says: Minority percentages climb, whites flee, segregation and poverty accelerate, schools get worse—and then the money, jobs, and tax base go, as segregation spurs the disinvestment vividly illustrated by the startling purple-to-yellow shifts on Orfield’s map. Those left behind are marooned in deteriorating conditions far from job centers.



“What I tell legislators is that if we want this state to be what it traditionally has been in education, and we want to be globally competitive, and we want to give children what they need to succeed, then let’s talk about equity and integration as well as test scores.”
    —Tonya Glover of Golden Valley, photographed with her sons Quentin, a fifth grader at an arts magnet school, and Keanu, in 11th grade at a suburban high school


“What people need to understand is that there’s nothing natural or inevitable about the fact that three-quarters of our residents of color live in low-opportunity central cities and stressed suburbs,” he says. “Segregation is perpetuated by a variety of private and public actions that reinforce one another. These are complex problems with no quick fixes. But we created these problems, and we can change them.”

Orfield advocates making the Met Council a proactive force for reining in unruly sprawl and promoting affordable housing across the region. He also strongly backs a directly elected council, which he believes would free it from the vacillating controls of changing governors (his own bill on this in 1994 failed in the legislature by one vote). Other regional solutions high on his list are expanded city-suburban school integration districts, revisions to an ineffective state integration aid program, and changes to low-income housing voucher and tax credit programs to distribute subsidized housing across the region.

A shift from segregation to integration requires something akin to overhauling a massive ecosystem, Orfield suggests. Piecemeal solutions within the borders of towns or school districts will only chip away at the edges. Still, he is acutely aware that communities can’t wait for macro-level solutions as they grapple daily with the realities of segregation.

The burden of segregation
Public schools have been the epicenter of debates over segregation since court-ordered desegregation rulings in the Civil Rights era sent thousands of school buses down roads paved with visions of an integrated America. Once, primarily urban school districts grappled with issues of race and poverty. But suburbs have grown markedly more diverse: In the Twin Cities, Richfield is now 32 percent people of color, Burnsville 22 percent, and Maplewood 21 percent. Students of color now make up roughly a quarter of all suburban schoolchildren, Orfield notes, and roughly one of every seven Twin Cities suburban schools is now nonwhite segregated.

Nowhere are the on-the-ground realities of segregation more evident, Orfield suggests, than in the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). Along with its St. Paul counterpart, the cash-strapped Minneapolis school system has a preponderance of the region’s poorest and most diverse student populations. Eighty percent of MPS students attend nonwhite segregated schools in which concentrated poverty and low student achievement are the norm.

In some districts, school boards go out of their way to intensify segregation, Orfield says. With a few keystrokes, he displays on his computer screen a colorful map showing where a suburban district south of the Twin Cities had drawn school boundaries around a low-income housing project. “They had me come out to tell them if they would get sued,” he says dryly. “I said yes.”

Like Orfield, Minneapolis Board of Education director Pam Costain (M.A. ’85) strongly backs integration as an educational and social ideal. But with only 3 in 10 students white, she says the district is hard-pressed to diversify the nonwhite segregated schools that are the norm for 80 percent of its students. “Welcome to the life of a school board member in an urban school district,” quips Costain, whose district is 64 percent poor and 70 percent students of color (in a 65 percent white city). “There are no silver bullets here.”


Photo: John Schultz, superintendent of the Hopkins School District, photographed with second graders enrolled in the XinXing Academy, a Chinese immersion program


Through open enrollment, students may enroll in public schools outside the school district in which they live, though families generally provide transportation. And districts promote integration through magnet schools whose special curricular bents—such as technology or the environment—draw students from across districts (Minnesota has more than 100 magnet schools in 22 school districts). MPS also offers an option for kids from the highest-poverty schools to transfer to its most affluent ones. And it sends 2,000 low-income children to suburban schools each year through “The Choice Is Yours,” an open-enrollment program that was the result of a 2000 settlement between the state of Minnesota and the NAACP over the “educational inadequacy” of segregated Minneapolis schools.

Yet last year MPS proposed pulling out of a city-suburb integration district called the West Metro Education Program (WMEP), citing mixed data on its effectiveness. Vocal critics included not only Orfield, but a director on the Minneapolis board, T. Williams (a former Humphrey fellow), who also sits on the WMEP board.

The Twin Cities has three school integration districts—the Northwest Suburb and the East Metro integration districts in addition to WMEP. Formed in response to a 1999 Minnesota State Legislature–authorized Desegregation Rule written to give families and students more opportunities to choose racially balanced schools across a broader geographic area, each integration district encompasses 7 to 11 school districts. The three Twin Cities districts stretch from Buffalo to Stillwater, Elk River to Eden Prairie. Orfield envisions five even broader “superdistricts” that each contain urban and suburban areas.

Describing integration as both an educational and moral imperative, Williams believes the school district should turn firmly in the direction of the regional integration partnerships advocated by Orfield, “even if they’re not perfect,” he says. “If Minneapolis leaves, it falls apart. We have a responsibility to hang in there, to be part of pushing from the inside to make it what we want it to be.”

Says Orfield: “When we create a situation where it’s no longer ‘bad’ schools versus ‘good’ schools, it effectively takes away the fuel for white flight. In fact, it’s the only real solution.”

Costain is ambivalent. The existing multidistrict programs “don’t seem to make white students more willing to come to city schools,” she says. “Regional programs have tended to mean busing children of color around the region, out of their neighborhoods and cultural contexts. I’m no longer willing to say that’s the answer,” says Costain. “I have to look every day at what is. That means we focus on equity. It means we look at promising research about helping high-poverty students succeed.”

“I do agree that it’s unfair that kids of color have to bear the burden of desegregation,” Orfield says. “But it’s absolutely the wrong solution to hunker down within neighborhood boundaries. The idea that we can close the achievement gap without desegregating is simply wrong. The statistics are catastrophically bad.”

When communities have sustained regional approaches to desegregating schools, Orfield says—citing as examples Louisville, Kentucky, and Raleigh, North Carolina—the achievement gains “are spectacular.” And when schools are integrated in a reasonably stable way, Orfield says, white and black parents alike will fight to keep them that way—and “stably integrated schools in turn promote integrated neighborhoods.”

Williams greatly admires Orfield and is familiar with his “turnover point” data on white flight. Yet he can’t help but sigh as he talks about “the fact that whites consider a school integrated” if it’s 75 percent white and 25 percent students of color, yet “if it’s 65 percent students of color and 35 percent white, they’ll leave.

“Whites won’t participate in integration unless they’re in the majority,” he continues. “I think that’s mainly because they really don’t perceive a self-interest in integration.”

Charter choices
Public schools made significant desegregation strides following the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and, especially, after its more aggressive 1968 follow-up, Green v. County School Board. But successive U.S. Supreme Court rollbacks in the years since have curtailed almost all school district desegregation efforts. Most recently, a seismic 2007 ruling often referred to as the Seattle-Louisville decision invalidated even voluntary school desegregation plans that use race—even as the decision also reaffirmed the value of racial diversity in the nation’s classrooms.

Amid the backdrop of stalled desegregation, one of the bracing realities facing public schools has come to be the hemorrhage of students of all backgrounds to charter schools, some of them with a single-ethnic focus.

“I think if integration can work, great,” says Mary Maddox, a substitute teacher and parent from north Minneapolis who serves on the MPS Parent Advisory Council. “What’s more important to me is high-quality teachers who set high expectations for my kids.” She is pleased with the education each of her three children experienced while attending, variously, a suburban integration magnet school (30 percent minority and multicultural), an inner city public high school (90 percent minority, split mostly between African American and Asian American), and a private charter school with an Afrocentric curriculum (99 percent African American).

Few issues trouble Orfield more than the rise of charter schools, independent public schools that operate under contracts with school districts or nonprofit organizations and that are supported by public school dollars (Minnesota, home to the first charter schools in the nation, currently has 153). “I understand why parents look for every opportunity to make sure kids succeed,” he says. “But it’s fair to say most charters are selling snake oil to desperate parents.” Citing both a detailed IRP study and an analysis by the state, Orfield emphasizes that “most charters are underperforming traditional public schools, and the ones that are failing the most are the ones that are segregated.”

The problem charter schools are set up to address, he says, is the achievement gap, which at root “is in fact the problem of segregation. Yet the solutions don’t address segregation and in many cases compound it.”

Increasingly, he notes, public school districts also are compelled to establish their own single-ethnic schools to compete with charters; Minneapolis, for example, has schools geared toward Hmong and Native American students.

“I need to hold two contradictory values in my head,” Costain admits. “One of my highest values is for a multiracial integrated society; it’s clear that children who come up through a structurally integrated school generally do better. But single-ethnic schools can preserve culture, identity, and language; they can promote empowerment. If they can also be high-performing, even though they’re not the schools I want, then I can justify them.”

Curt Johnson, a high-profile civic leader and charter school champion who has often sparred publicly with Orfield, believes Orfield’s charter school data is flawed; he also perceives him as “protectionistic about traditional school districts.” Johnson, who helmed both the Citizens League and the Metropolitan Council, sees charter schools “as a way of pulling out all the stops to create a much richer system, with many more schooling opportunities and innovative approaches to learning.”

Minneapolis and many other school districts, Johnson says, “are like a bucket with two or three holes in it—it doesn’t matter how often you keep filling it up; water keeps going out. Parents are leaving—and a lot of the leakage is on the African American side. Myron insists on inserting his judgment in place of what parents choose.”

Orfield, no stranger to the sharp elbows of politics, shrugs off the jabs, noting that his work is published in well-respected peer-reviewed journals. The term school choice is sometimes “a stand-in for ‘vouchers’ and a push to privatize public education.” Even so, he continues, “charters aren’t inherently bad. But to offer students an option between a failing public school and a failing charter school is not really a ‘choice,’ it’s a con.”

Bill Wilson takes strenuous issue with the notion that the Afrocentric charter school he established “to empower black children is the equivalent of the segregated school I was forced to attend as a boy in Evansville, Indiana.” A former president of the St. Paul City Council (and onetime researcher at the U’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs), Wilson connects his history of civil rights activism with his charter school leadership.

“The public school system is one of our great democratic institutions, but it has to be held accountable for failing to educate children of color,” says Wilson. “I’m an integrationist who is passionately committed to a pluralistic and just society. I see much of this the same way Myron does, except the solution. The solution to ending segregation is making sure our kids go to college, get good jobs, become productive citizens.”

Wilson’s charter school, Higher Ground Academy, is a K–12 prep school that has achieved fair achievement results, trumpets a 100 percent college-placement rate, and was named a bronze medalist in a recent US News & World Report listing of “Best High Schools.” Orfield grants that some charters “have better data than others” but notes that many charters fumble as their concentrations of impoverished students rise.

Wilson concedes that point but is unfazed. “We’re inheriting underperforming children from the public schools,” he says. “Our students are high-poverty kids who come to us two grades behind. It’s our job to teach them—to set the bar high, to be uncompromising, and to succeed in sending them to Hamline or the University of Minnesota. That is the way to an integrated America.”

Like Orfield, St. Paul Board of Education Chair Elona Street-Stewart is concerned both about the preponderance of data documenting the failures of charter schools and the large number of segregated charters. “It’s a question of equity,” she says. “State law requires that public schools actively work to disrupt segregation. Why is it that charters—funded with public school dollars—are allowed to be segregated?” She questions whether children educated in segregated classrooms “will have the social and cultural skills they need to be able to achieve in a more diverse social environment when they go to college.”

Street-Stewart is the overseer of a 38,000-student urban school system that is at least on paper a fair approximation of a culturally integrated district. Asian American and African American students each make up 30 percent of the student body, with white students a close third at 25 percent; Latinos (14 percent) and American Indians (1 percent) complete the picture.

Her view of what integration requires is, she suggests, “perhaps more organic than Myron’s.” It’s important, she says, “to have Myron in the conversation and to have economists and to have Bill Wilson. But as we talk about data and outcomes and all the scaffolding around what happens in schools, I want to be sure that we bring in voices from many cultural traditions to share their sense of what the challenges are and to be part of shaping the journey.”

The journey metaphor is a resonant one for Hopkins superintendent John Schultz (B.S. ’86, M.S. ’95, Ph.D. ’06), whose suburban district lies just west of Minneapolis. Overseeing a WMEP integration initiative that buses to Hopkins kids from Minneapolis and several suburbs, he has also insisted Hopkins staff visit the home neighborhoods of Minneapolis kids.

Clear in Schultz’s mind is that integration benefits everyone, white kids as well as people of color. He points to the “rich opportunities this program offers for our students and staff to work elbow to elbow and knee to knee with other cultures and communities—to see and be part of the racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity that is reshaping our state. As a superintendent, I really value that,” he says.

Schultz’s district, about 30 percent students of color, “has changed, and changed rapidly,” he says. Orfield includes in Region a brief study of the district’s ill-fated attempt in 2006 to integrate its whitest school. The district backed down as parents threatened to open-enroll in the bordering enclave of Minnetonka.

“Can schools be good schools when they’re segregated? It’s a valid question,” says Schultz. “For me, it gets back to the importance of teaching and learning for a diverse society. One of the reasons I value Myron’s work is that he makes it so clear that we cannot, as individual systems, address these issues on our own. We do need regional solutions, and we all need to roll up our sleeves and be part of them.”

Tonya Glover of Golden Valley, a founding member of the Parent Advisory Council for WMEP, believes so passionately in integrated schools that she lobbies legislators for the integration aid reforms Orfield recommends. Her two sons attend schools in the Robbinsdale school district, one an arts magnet middle school called FAIR, and the other a traditional suburban high school. Both schools are about 68 percent white. “I have one son coming home talking about how his teachers are racist,” Glover says, “and the one at FAIR who can’t wait to go to school each day—and he certainly didn’t feel that way about his previous school.”

“This is the vibrant and effective education my son deserves—and all children deserve,” says Glover, the product of a segregated south Chicago school thrust into steep decline by white flight. “Integration is just one part of education, but it does matter. What I tell legislators is that if we want this state to be what it traditionally has been in education, and we want to be globally competitive, and we want to give children what they need to succeed, then let’s talk about equity and integration as well as test scores. And it’s not just about kids of color. Demography is changing, and guess what: Whites are going to be the minority really soon.”

Continuing the conversation
The Twin Cities may be historically inexperienced in grappling with issues of race, Orfield says, but it also “has not experienced entrenched patterns of conflict around race, which helps. We also have a political and social history here that may make addressing these issues an easier proposition.”

For Patricia Torres Ray (B.A. ’01, M.P.A. ’04), the state senate’s majority whip, those conversations can’t happen soon enough. Ray, who represents southeast Minneapolis, finds a troubling divide between “legislators from districts across Minnesota where the majority of kids are doing well and those where that’s not the case. They don’t believe our communities are connected.”

Barbara Bearman (B.A. ’56) hopes the conversation will include “discussion about our basic values, about how we function and live together, about what kind of country and community we want to be.” Bearman is a longtime civil rights activist who helped bring a landmark 1971 desegregation suit against the Minneapolis schools (as well as the suit that led to the statewide “The Choice Is Yours” program and the integration partnership so prized by John Schultz).

“I wonder what Martin Luther King would say,” she muses. “He told us it would be a long haul. On the one hand, we’re having discussions about race and poverty it wasn’t possible to have 40 years ago. But on the other hand, we’re much more segregated.”

Orfield, for his part, grants that “integration is very hard work.” But on the whole, he maintains a distinctly Humphreyesque brio. “This isn’t at all pie in the sky,” he insists. “There is no place in the country better positioned to deal with these issues. There’s no question in my mind that if we get our eyes back on the ball and really use the tools we have at our disposal, we can very rapidly eliminate concentrated poverty and segregation across the Twin Cities.”

Lifting his chin, Orfield grins and adds. “That would really be something, wouldn’t it? Of course, I’d have to find new questions to work on.”

Kate Tyler is a Minneapolis freelance writer and editor.

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