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The Case for School Integration [The Atlantic]

Written on 20 February 2016, 08:45am under As Seen In

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Two new reports on school integration were published this month. “Socioeconomic School Integration has More Than Doubled and Millions of Students Stand to Benefit” was the headline on the press release. True. And. Efforts to make racially and socioeconomically diverse schools a reality have ultimately lagged. While more districts are rightly opting for diverse schools, others continue to face resistance. The promise of integrated schools is far from fulfilled.

“If you successfully bring these resources to high-poverty schools, it is possible to produce strong results for kids—and we know examples of excellent high-poverty schools that are doing that,” Potter said. “But these successful high-poverty schools are sadly still the outliers,” she stated, stressing that the majority of education reform strategies “focus on this long shot … rather than pursuing integration to break up the concentrations of poverty that we know are so harmful for kids.”

The most common method listed by districts to achieve this integration was redrawing neighborhood school boundaries, a controversial approach that is often accompanied by public outcry. But the researchers, while conceding the politically contentious nature of school-boundary decisions, admittedly offer scarce guidance to help school leaders that are considering changing attendance zones. Much of the pushback, like school segregation, cuts along racial and class lines. One illustration of the inherent challenges is seen in New York City, where parents on the Upper West Side and in the neighboring borough of Brooklyn opposed recent school boundary changes that would bring racial and socioeconomic integration.

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