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.

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3 Responses

  1. Michael Zimmer says:

    One of the costs of our laissez faire, free market economic policy is that education in general has been shortchanged. And, given the prevailing funding of K-12 education using local real property taxes, those on the bottom end of the economic scale are the most shortchanged. Members of minority groups tend to be at that bottom end.

    Up until the Supreme Court abandoned integration in the Milliken v. Bradley, an important effect of desegregation was to have “green” no longer only follow whites but also blacks and other minority groups. Integration need not be in conflict with expanded quality of education.

    So, we are wasting generation after generation of talent. That will continue until “we” decide that quality education for all is among our most important policy objectives and that objective has to include integrated education

  2. Christa says:

    From firsthand knowledge, I can say the way to get good schools for poor neighborhoods is to divide the school districts with that goal in mind. I went to the best public school in Arizona, mostly because the school district overlapped the most expensive neighborhoods. But the school district also covered very poor neighborhoods a few miles south, so these student comprised about 30% of the school’s students.
    I remember there were two buses to school, one that picked up students from north of the school, and the other that picked up students south of the school. The one from the south was always so packed that students could barely find a place to sit. But the one from the north had 5 students on its full day, simply because most of the students from the north had cars or had parents who were retired and had time to drop them off at school in the morning.
    Either way, every student there got a great education. I should note though that the poor students were very underrepresented in AP and honors classes, though. That can be a big problem for their education, because non-honors classes tended to be slow and cover material from previous years too often.

  3. “Most of us recognize that our society will be stronger if our students are educated in diverse settings…”

    Really? Let’s take law schools for example. Are you saying most of us recognize that having a law school faculty in which the Federalist Society was well-represented and where support for the Solomon Amendment would not make you a social outcast is a goal worthy of attention of the faculty hiring committee?…or do I just not understand the word “diverse”.