The U.S. has spent decades trying different strategies to bring low-income students to good schools. "). With the conspicuous exception of busing, policies intended to achieve integration draw support from clear majorities of both African -American and white parents. "Integration is positive and productive and does yield well-balanced children," maintains a black parent in Raleigh, N.C. "In the ideal situation, you have all the children interacting and learning together. Elementary schools are especially affected because they tend to draw students from small geographic areas. These findings aren't terribly surprising. See our, Read a limited number of articles each month, You consent to the use of cookies and tracking by us and third parties to provide you with personalized ads, Unlimited access to washingtonpost.com on any device, Unlimited access to all Washington Post apps, No on-site advertising or third-party ad tracking. Students who have access to good facilities, qualified teachers and instruction will improve academically. Watch a TIME video on Detroit's public schools. If that's the way it is, that's the way it is. They value integrated schools because they believe their children and the country as a whole will be better able to handle the diversity of today's society. 2656. Large majorities (84% of blacks and 77% of whites) feel integrated schools will help improve race relations in America. It does, the economist and professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, explains in this post. But you can't say, `Well, you are all white; you should get some blacks.' For one, that school integration doesn’t work. That's why so many in the reform community see issues such as improving teacher effectiveness, providing a better curriculum and expanding high-performing charter schools in underserved communities as more impactful and immediate steps than grand schemes to change housing policy or school-district boundaries. If the retrenchment in policymaking circles is there, it seems to be at least partially in accord with public sentiment. Both groups say, "It was absolutely wrong to have segregation" (64% of black and 71% of white parents). ", But there are more than 13,000 superintendents across the nation, many of whom presumably would be less surprised at the challenges Weast highlighted. School administrators often reflect parents' reticence. It is even harder to detect an appetite among whites for invigorating integration efforts: 27% want the U.S. to do more; 47% believe things are about right; and 17% feel they should be scaled back. The unprecedented transparency required by the No Child Left Behind Act has laid bare the stark inequities that exist within schools. The study looked at about 850 low-income students whose families took advantage of housing programs that enabled them to live in affluent parts of Maryland's Montgomery County. African-American and white parents see great value in having their offspring attend integrated schools. By clicking “I agree” below, you consent to the use by us and our third-party partners of cookies and data gathered from your use of our platforms. USA TODAY, Magazine article Compounding this problem is the fact that large school districts like Montgomery County, which has more than 141,000 students, are not the norm. It's well documented that, in general, as the level of poverty increases in a school, academic achievement suffers. We rely on readers like you to uphold a free press. We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and deliver personalized advertising on our sites, apps and newsletters and across the Internet based on your interests. The glaring problem from a policy perspective, however, is that low-income families tend to live in the same neighborhoods, and dramatically changing housing patterns — or school-zoning boundaries — as a large-scale reform measure is impractical. The idea jumped back into the spotlight this month when the Century Foundation released a new study touting the benefits of economically integrated schools. Education analyst Rick Hess has likened their resistance to zoning changes to the way NFL season-ticket holders would react if their team suddenly announced that seating would be general admission. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge the limitations of those approaches and double-down on the most promising efforts to bring good schools to students who need them — now. "Too often, the schools work so hard to achieve integration that they … Vol. You also agree to our Terms of Service. The Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that schools can't keep kids out based on race. 128, No. Another reason integration seems to work is shown in a 2014 study by Rucker Johnson, a public-policy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, No one in the mainstream of the education debate wants segregated schools. If parents see school integration as a laudable concept, why don't more of them rally to its cause? This has a variety of consequences, including putting good schools out of reach for many students. And of course, there are plenty of schools that demonstrate that high poverty rates and low achievement are not inexorably linked. Indeed, integration and busing were so intimately connected in people's minds that Public Agenda interviewers constantly had to remind them that these did not necessarily mean the same thing. We're just keenly attuned to the practical constraints. These reformers, myself included, are not opposed to efforts to create more economically integrated schools. And many of today's economic-integration initiatives are modest in size or scope while the scale of educational failure for low-income youngsters is not — only about 10% of low-income students earn a college degree by age 24. Despite widespread support for the concept, there is a distinct lack of energy and passion for integration among black and white parents. Poor and minority youngsters often lag far behind overall averages — those gaps are a prime reason that even some relatively affluent schools are failing to meet the law's performance standards. …, Volume/issue: An unknown error has occurred. In particular, the achievement gap at the elementary level was cut in half for math and by a third in reading. We can't simply wish these boundaries away, and in many of these districts, the poverty is so widespread that the mathematics of economic integration don't work — there are not enough non-poor students. While both groups believe integrated schools improve race relations and enhance their children's ability to thrive in a diverse world, they are wary of associated costs: that schools will be distracted from academics, bitter disputes will emerge, and their offspring will end up paying the price. This content is currently not available in your region. School integration in the United States is the process (also known as desegregation) of ending race -based segregation within American public and private schools. In addition to geographic realities, parents are not broadly supportive of ambitious transfer schemes or overly restrictive enrollment policies that constrain their choices. Whites worry that integration will bring troubled kids into local schools; blacks fear their children will be thrown into hostile and contentious school environments. USA TODAY, A majority of blacks and whites "believe that efforts to integrate have distracted the schools from what should be their number-one priority--academic achievement.". However, they would be missing an important piece of the puzzle. School integration has vexed policymakers for more than half a century. Nearly all parents agree that "our country is very diverse and kids need to learn to get along with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds" (97% of both races). BLACK AND WHITE PARENTS say integration is valuable, but, on closer examination, fears emerge. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our, Article details, "Does School Integration Work? Specifically, parents who are paying the high property taxes that often accompany high-performing public schools are zealously protective of access to that amenity. Most parents want integration to occur naturally and are optimistic that things can improve. So the majority develops a tolerance for the minority--ideally." "If integration comes, it comes. With the conspicuous exception of busing, policies intended to achieve integration draw support from clear majorities of both African -American and white parents. In other states, there is even less appetite to move students around. For instance, when Jerry Weast, the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, noted the logistical challenges of economically integrating a lot of schools, he was castigated by Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation, a leading advocate for economic integration of schools. Then in 2007 it ruled that schools can't bring kids together based on race. Parents also believe integrated schools could bring concrete benefits: 86% of black and 74% of white parents say integration would mean a better chance that all kids will have good schools. The Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that schools can't keep kids out based on race. In terms of what happens in the classroom, it's worth noting that more-affluent schools are not uniformly good schools, nor are they consistently effective at educating low-income students. (See "Summer Programs Keep Kids' Minds Sharp."). For a long while, I contemplated calling this work Adulting 101. Low-income students are more challenging to educate, and schools serving them often have fewer enrichment activities, highly effective teachers and other key educational resources — even in places like Montgomery County, which has been sharply focused on addressing the achievement gap over the past decade. Please click the button below to reload the page. (While the systemic shortchanging of minority students in public schools is increasingly getting attention, poor white students are systemically underserved as well, which points to yet another benefit of focusing on class rather than race.) Keyword searches may also use the operators Just a slim majority of black parents (52%) say the nation should do more to integrate schools; 38% feel current efforts are about right; and eight percent believe that less should be done. Parents believe that efforts to integrate have distracted the schools from what should be their main priority--academic achievement. Why push things?" But while such schools are not an immutable condition, they are an unfortunate fact of life. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Ironically, relatively few have direct experience with efforts to achieve school integration. School integration has vexed policymakers for more than half a century. (See what makes a school great.). Students can be segregated within schools as well as from them. Parents also believe integrated schools could bring concrete benefits: 86% of black and 74% of white parents say integration would mean a better chance that all kids will have good schools. Magazine article ", {{filterTypeLookup[searchItem.filterType]}}, {{searchTypeLookup[searchItem.searchType]}}, Primary Sources (Literary and Historical), Full access to this article and over 14 million more from academic journals, magazines, and newspapers, Access to powerful writing and research tools. See our Privacy Policy and Third Party Partners to learn more about the use of data and your rights. All rights reserved. AND, OR, NOT, “ ”, ( ), We use cookies to deliver a better user experience and to show you ads based on your interests.