As we mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, we are glad to see renewed interest in the issue of segregation, but discouraged about our societal failure to tackle it. Indeed, we have both recently written about the persistence of racial segregation in our public schools, and about the pernicious effects of associated concentrated poverty. BBA and EPI document the segregation of black and Hispanic children in high-poverty kindergarten classrooms. And Kahlenberg has written about new efforts to reinvigorate Brown by emphasizing socioeconomic integration through public school choice.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this segregation is the waste of a precious American resource, one that could offer our children an important advantage over their peers in many other countries: diversity. We continue, for the most part, to treat the multiple languages spoken in schools from Los Angeles to Minneapolis as only a challenge for teachers, rather than the learning opportunity it could represent for classmates. We see only deficits for children who grow up in very challenging circumstances, rather than finding creative ways to help them share with their peers the resilience and creativity gained through those experiences.
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New studies have found that in some places, public schools are as segregated as they were in 1968. Does that matter?
To my mind, it’s hugely significant. If you think about the two fundamental purposes of public education, it’s to promote social mobility so that a child, no matter her circumstances, can, through a good education, go where her God-given talents would take her. The second purpose is to strengthen our democracy by creating intelligent and open-minded citizens, and related to that, to build social cohesion.
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The report also found that low-income students in low-poverty schools “were more likely to meet college and career readiness benchmarks and less likely to demonstrate at-risk outcomes than their low-income peers in high-poverty high schools.”
The report spurred a series of suggestions and much local media attention when it was released in April. Some commentators, including Bethesda resident and school integration expert Richard Kahlenberg, suggested MCPS explore ways to allow low-income students to transfer to wealthier schools.
“I’m really confused by the whole notion of boundaries here. It appears to me there are a few schools that would logically be in the Northeast and Downcounty Consortiums by where they’re located,” Branson said. “And they’re not.”
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As an education policy researcher at The Century Foundation, I study the academic and social benefits of school integration. I examine research, conduct interviews, and visit schools to identify promising practices that promote diversity and inclusion in schools. I came to BELL in search of a more equitable approach to gifted education, and found a model I think other city schools should examine closely.
New York City’s gifted and talented programs have a long history of creating socioeconomic and racial segregation within schools. But BELL Academy offers a promising alternative: extending enrichment opportunities to all students.
Under the city’s current G&T system, screening happens at a young age—typically preschool—when children’s educational opportunities are largely a product of their socioeconomic status. Students are admitted based on scores from a standardized test, giving a leg up to families that can afford test prep and push for re-testing. And G&T programs typically serve students in self-contained classrooms, separating them from their peers.
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TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg published a piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the latest Fisher v. University of Texas ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
On Tuesday, in the latest ruling in the long-running case of Fisher v. University of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the ability of the University of Texas at Austin to use race in admissions. The decision was understandably celebrated by proponents of affirmative action. But the victory in this battle may, paradoxically, tee up a major loss in the larger war.
The ruling came in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in the case, a 7-to-1 opinion. In that decision the court remanded the case to the lower court with stern instructions that, in evaluating the means by which the university achieves diversity, the court apply “no deference” to the university’s contention that the goal of a diverse educational environment could be achieved only through racial preferences. The Supreme Court rebuked the Fifth Circuit for being too lax the first time around.
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Raymond let the detail about her latest comparisons slip toward the end of the 90-minute discussion on Tuesday night, which included Century Foundation fellow Richard Kahlenberg, Hunter College Professor Joseph Viteritti, the state’s former charter school chief Sally Bachofer, and John Witte, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Read the article here.
Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.
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