Re-igniting the Movement for Integration
Most of us recognize that our society will be stronger if our students are educated in diverse settings and our neighborhoods not divided by race or ethnicity. Yet integration in education and housing remains an elusive goal and is often seen as secondary to measurable academic achievement or affordable housing.
The politics of integration are also complex. When is integration in a neighborhood cause for celebration and when has it shaded into the dreaded gentrification? Are poor children of color most likely to be effectively educated in opportunity rich, integrated schools or will the teachers and administrations in such schools favor kids from wealthy families with helicopter parents? These questions are real and should be topics for debate among policy makers, researchers, community residents, and parents.
Unfortunately, this complexity and, to an even greater extent, anxiety about even acknowledging race have led many to shy away from these issues. Not everyone, though. Over 300 people attended a conference this past week at Howard University School of Law, entitled Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Public Education Policy: A Conversation Among Policymakers, Advocates and Educators. The conference brought together Obama administration officials, civil rights advocates and researchers, educators, and parents. If you are interested in the discussion, you can access the live blog here.