One of the most interesting questions in education has to do with segregation. Is desegregation an end in itself? To the extent that it has been shown to work, why does it? The answer to the questions surrounding segregation is tied to the history of systemic racism in the US, and, similarly to current debates about how to handle local and systemic reparations for historically underserved communities. Integration is often seen as a proximity issue, meaning that there is often an assumption that integration works somehow because black kids sit next to white kids in a classroom. As P.L. Thomas puts it in his blog The Becoming Radical:
Doing something about segregation—whether we mean public policy or public activism—must be doing something about equity, and not continuing the mistake of reading segregation as a problem of simple proximity.
This set of readings provides a brief look at how desegregation efforts played out in the US for a period in the 1970s and 80s following the Brown versus Board decision—a period when there was active court enforcement of desegregation efforts. The readings and podcast also provide a current view of how minority schools—both those that have remained segregated and those that have reverted to full segregation–are now being swept away or reconstituted under a broad policy of school reform that identifies so-called low-performing urban schools as “failing”. And, finally, we take a look at the intersecting role of class and race in school segregation.
The New York Times has stepped up its race and class conversations in education, highlighted by this article from NYT’s Kate Taylor on the proposed rezoning of a school district in Brooklyn. While it makes sense to de-zone our schools in an effort to temper down the flurry of studies showing NYC as one of the most segregated … Continue reading Why Integration In New York Won’t Work
This American Life: PodcasT In an acclaimed two-part This American Life: Act One of “The problem we all live with” radio documentary, also by Nikole Hannah-Jones, she reports on a school district that accidentally stumbled on an integration program in recent years. It’s the Normandy School District in Normandy, Missouri. Normandy is on the border … Continue reading The Problem We All Live With
By Nikole Hannah-Jones Freed from court oversight, Tuscaloosa’s schools have seemed to move backwards in time. The citywide integrated high school is gone, replaced by three smaller schools. Central retains the name of the old powerhouse, but nothing more. A struggling school serving the city’s poorest part of town, it is 99 percent black. D’Leisha, … Continue reading Segregation Now
By Jelani Cobb One evening in June of last year, Jamaica students wearing red and blue gowns gathered with their families and teachers and with members of the school staff at Antun’s, a catering hall in Queens Village, for the senior-class commencement ceremony. Accompanying the festivities was the traditional graduation boilerplate—about life transitions and rising … Continue reading The Life and Death of Jamaica High School