On MLK Day, Some Thoughts on Segregated Schools, Arne Duncan, and President Obama

American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white. 

Overall, a third of all black and Latino children sit every day in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent black and Latino. 

This is a sad state of affairs in a pluralistic society, and it is borne of two factors: 1) residential segregation and 2) purposeful drawing of school district boundaries to isolate middle class and white families from poor families of color. So it is absolutely a good thing that last Thursday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a letter chiding the Wake County, North Carolina school board–which has been taken over by Tea Partiers–for dismantling a groundbreaking school integration program.

The Wake County program located high-achieving, themed magnet schools within poor neighborhoods, and opened them up to any interested student. For each seat at the magnet school occupied by a middle class or affluent kid from across town, an inner city child was given the opportunity to bus to the neighborhood school the wealthier kid would have attended, if he hadn't chosen the magnet instead. Such schemes are known in wonk world as "voluntary intra-district transfer programs," and in many of the cities where they exist (such as Milwaukee, Hartford, and Seattle), they are popular and vastly oversubscribed. 

The problem is that Arne Duncan's words of support for the Wake County integration plan have never been backed up by Obama administration policy. Neither of the Department of Education's two big school reform grant programs–Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation–provide any funding at all for districts that wish to pursue magnet school-driven integration as a reform tool. And make no mistake–integration is one of the most powerful school reform tools in the kit. 

Here's how we know that: At the macro level, four decades of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress–the "nation's report card"–show that the achievement gap between white and minority students shrunk fastest during the 1970s and 1980s, the era of Court-mandated school desegregation. Between 2004 and 2009, on the other hand–our NLCB, "standards and accountability" era–the achievement gap between white children and black and Latino children did not shrink at all.

Let's see how this operates on the ground level, around the key issue of teacher quality: When another North Carolina school district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, ended its 30-year busing program in 2000 and reverted back to racially segregated schools, the highest-performing teachers fled schools that became predominantly black and poor.

Here's another local example: In Montgomery County, Maryland, a largely affluent area that has taken care to locate several pockets of public housing within high-performing school districts, those poor students who attended the lowest-poverty schools had significantly better academic outcomes than demographically similar poor students–also living in randomly-assigned Montgomery County public housing–who attended schools that served a greater percentage of poor kids.

Given this track record, it's a disappointment that the Obama administration has not created incentives aimed at encouraging school districts to experiment with magnet schools and other means of desegregation. On the upside, there is good work being done at the Department of Housing and Urban Development on attacking residential segregation; in 2009, for example, HUD told Westchester County it could no longer build affordable housing only in towns and cities that already had high concentrations of poverty. (Doing so was always illegal, but past administrations failed to enforce the law.)

Still, what we really need is a multi-pronged approach to attacking segration: First, we need to fight poverty and economic inequality broadly. But while we do that, we also need to use every tool at our disposal–meaning both housing and education law and policy–to diversify our existing neighborhoods and schools.

Advocating for such policies does not imply that high-poverty, all-minority schools cannot be excellent. We know they can be. But on the whole, such schools are failing. One way to reverse those outcomes for kids is to get them into more diverse, higher functioning schools that are not overwhelmed by the challenges of poverty.

49 thoughts on “On MLK Day, Some Thoughts on Segregated Schools, Arne Duncan, and President Obama

  1. Sunday Iwalaiye

    For America to remain great, just and competative with the remaining industrialized nations in the 21st century, these educational anomalies must be timely addressed and corrected adequately. Majority of these high school dropouts do not go back to finish their high school diploma through the alternative avenues provided by the state governments, such as the GED Program. These dropouts are likely to live below the poverty line throughout their life, may have to fully depend of the government welfare system for life that is funded by the taxpayers, or may likely end up in the prison systems periodically or for a lifetime.

  2. Simon Grey

    Why is it assumed that nominal diversity makes for a richer learning environment? I would think that excellent teachers and classroom discipline would be a better solution. To that end, it would be better to stop wasting money on smartboards and give that money to teachers, which would encourage them to stay. Also, enabling teachers to have more disciplinary tools at their disposal would encourage them to stay at poorer schools.

  3. gregorylent

    could be viewed through the lens of geography and not race. and that would be non-racist. and teach us something about income distribution, belief, attitudes, and be far more nuanced.

    and by the way, we need a system that separates the best and brightest and sends them into leadership roles, ala singapore, china, or any other country that is kicking our behind.

  4. ex nyc teaching fellow

    maybe you should visit some of the schools in District 75 in NYC where they stick special needs kids on the 5th floor of a general ed school and where simply walking up the steps to get to homeroom can take over two hours. Maybe you should think about flushing out the teachers union that is filled with “i just wanna collect my check and not complain about anything” type of teachers. Maybe you should have metal detectors at all the schools and ban cell phones inside classrooms so kids can’t deal drugs in math class or threaten teachers with pipes, guns and gang violence. Maybe NYC teaching fellows some with absolutely ZERO experience in any type of classroom should not be left with autistic childrens whose needs far exceed those of the capabilities of a two year training program. Maybe all these schools should revolt the way MLK did. Stand up, walk out, and not settle for a busted,broken,corrupted system. Maybe, just maybe then an inner city kid will have a chance at learning something other than just how to survive and get to the next grade.

  5. Herkimer Jones

    Golly, that couldn’t possibly be that blacks tend to live in black neighborhoods, Hispanics tend to live in Hispanic neighborhood, and whites tend to live in white neighborhoods.

    Our first try at busing blacks and Hispanics to white schools didn’t work. Maybe we should start busing white kids to predominately black and Hispanic schools. That would raise the average I.Q. and income level in those schools and solve the problem in a heartbeat.

  6. G

    I thought you’d like to know that I decided to post your article/blog post on metafilter: link to metafilter.com

    Once the comments get flowing, it should be interesting to watch, cheers and thanks for the information, sad/interesting.

  7. brian

    really more segrated lets think back then 100% of blacks attended all black schools and now thats down to 33% thats a remarkable decrease you can’t base an argument solely on statistics because they are easily manipulated as i just showed i used the same statisic she did and used in a good way versus how she used in a negative light

  8. Merovech

    How about we focus on programs that produce results? Three MD school districts tried a math program (Singapore) not supported by the state. After trying for one year, or two, minority children improved dramatically. Rather than back it the state forced the local districts to self-fund. As a result, the districts stopped.

    Maybe schools should focus on the basics, and stop being used as a social science project.

  9. Aneudy De Leon M.

    I would rather say it is not a race issue. Rather than that, it is a the way of critical thinking that is taught either in white schools and minority’s schools. I think in America, teachers are trained to emphasize better its educational potential on white students than black’s and latino’s. Maybe, it may be due to that white’s “are likely more interested” in learning, getting better, or being more competitive than black and latino’s. What I think, this is a way to stimulate a kind of belief of superiority at what minorities don’t have choice seen their behaviors and rare accomplishment exceptions.
    In conclusion, more than “race issue” is a problem of “culture” and the “weak” or “unwilling” of U.S. Government in correcting it.
    Given the plurality of US society, the best advice to Obama administration would be to start opening up and democratizing even more the knowledge and encouraging to minority’s students to be competitive and have the same opportunities than white and richest classes. Just like that America will keep being the most competitive nation on face to other industrialized countries.

  10. Kasey

    Seems like your comparing class and trying to make it about race, when in reality all races suffer based on class. Poor is poor whether black, white, latino or asian.

  11. sonya

    It is not worse now than then. Then you had no choice. Now any majority student can go to a school where his race is a minority. Better yet, universities are full of minorities that would have had no chance for a higher education in the fifties. BTW, the president is an educated black man. How do you think that happene, magic beans?

  12. Morgan

    “…those poor students who attended the lowest-poverty schools had significantly better academic outcomes than demographically similar poor students–also living in randomly-assigned Montgomery County public housing–who attended schools that served a greater percentage of poor kids.”

    If you’ve ever been in a “high poverty” school, at least one in the inner city (I’m ignorant of high-poverty rural schools), you know that this is effectively a foregone conclusion. Moving a child to a school in which his or her classes are not constantly disrupted by other students, and in which disciplinary enforcement actually takes place, would presumably result in improved outcomes regardless of measures of poverty.

    Factors like this aren’t even considered in the Schwartz study. Now granted, every study has its weaknesses, but attributing improvement to one characteristic of the intervention (attendance at low-poverty schools – though I note that Schwartz seems to want to attribute some of the effect to living in low-poverty neighborhoods) while ignoring other factors is not strongly justified.

    Now, if you just want to see the Montgomery County model copied because you like the idea, then you can just say “this seems to work, who cares why, everyone should do it (and forget the cost)”. But if you are interested in improving outcomes for students as efficiently (and hence as sustainably and broadly) as possible, you might not be satisfied with this.

    One other thing, though – it would be nice for Schwartz to have assessed any impact on the students who are not in public housing. Were their outcomes impacted positively, negatively, or not at all to the limits of the study?

  13. Aneudy De Leon M.

    That’s why I also refered to “White and Richest classes”. Even though, you’re right in part of your argument: “Poor is poor whether black, white, latino or asian.” The key issue is that this (I would call) “superiority-thinking-way,” remains in American mentality even over the own damned’s, and I think is the problem to get over because at the end all are a only nation.

  14. Aneudy De Leon M.

    That’s why I also refered to “White and Richest classes”. Even though, you’re right in part of your argument: “Poor is poor whether black, white, latino or asian.” The key issue is that this (I would call) “superiority-thinking-way,” remains in American mentality even over the own damned’s, and I think is the problem to get over because at the end all are a only nation.

  15. vinny

    Liberals want equality in everything. They want EVERYBODY to be stupid. B/c if ur stupid, they can make you into a victim, which in turn makes you reliant on the federal goverernment. And this makes the liberals feel good about themselves that they have done something in the world.

  16. KP

    @Simon Grey

    The collapse of that “nominal diversity” has serious implications for funding and teacher quality.

    “When another North Carolina school district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, ended its 30-year busing program in 2000 and reverted back to racially segregated schools, the highest-performing teachers fled schools that became predominantly black and poor.”

  17. Boris

    Note that one outcome of the Montgomery County policy has been a significant increase in drug use in the “high-performing” schools involved (because the demand was there, and now a supply route was there too).

    Whether this is an acceptable tradeoff is an interesting question.

  18. Phil

    Uhm. What about the parents who pay $12,000 per year in property taxes (of which 86% goes towards the school district)? Is it fair that children whos parents only pay $1,000 in property taxes get bussed in and get to take advantage of the greater resources available there?

  19. Natalie Holland

    I agree with that there is increased segregation. This is important. On this note: high quality schools are the answer. Not what the author advocates about just shifting a few children.

    Education was suppose to be the great equalizer, but then you have people like Phil, who still want to keep the poor, poor.
    Property taxes has always been a poor way to fund schools.

    Now public schools are being dismantled one test at a time with the scapegoating of schools and deprofessionalization of teachers.

    It’s all about creating magnets and charters to further separate the high achieving students and make all public schools warehouses for the poor.

    Now public schools are being dismantled one test at a time with the scapegoating of schools and deprofessionalization of teachers.

    It’s all about creating magnets and charters to further seperate the high acheiving students and make all public schools warehouses for the poor.

    MLK would not be happy on his birthday.

  20. Phil

    Wow. I never said that I wanted to keep the poor in the condition they find themselves. But at the same time I can barely afford the taxes for MY OWN children to go to a good school district, let alone worry about somone elses. Maybe you’d like to pony up and rent some houses out for the less fortunate and contribute to the costs of better education for them?

    I agree that funding public schools with property taxes is far from ideal. But until that changes, I’m against it with every fiber of my being.

    My wife and I used to live in Trenton, NJ. We saved our money for over five years just to be able to afford a down payment on a house in an area with a better school district. We waited to have children until we could afford to give them the type of education we wanted for them. Maybe some of the poor you speak of should exercise the same discipline and restraint that we did. We’re far from rich, and maybe, just maybe, could be considered middle class. We come from humble backgrounds in urban areas with little means. If we managed so can others.

    This has nothing to do with keeping poor people down, but has everything to do with fairness, you know, equality?

  21. outback

    “First, we need to fight poverty and economic inequality broadly. But while we do that, we also need to use every tool at our disposal–meaning both housing and education law and policy–to diversify our existing neighborhoods and schools.”

    We’ve spent Trillions attempting just that over the last 50 years….hasn’t worked.

  22. Highgamma

    I found these numbers a little unbelievable so I did a quick web search on “Children Under 18 Living in Poverty” and got the following link: link to npc.umich.edu

    In 2008, 21% of children live below the poverty line. 35% of black children and 33% of Hispanic children live below the poverty line. So my question is who are the children that black children are going to school with that would leave them with 59% of the kids being poor? It doesn’t seem to me that it would be black or Hispanic children. Unless this is some kind of averages of percentages without proper weighting effect.

  23. Nelly the Salutatorian of a poor school

    If kids apply themselves they can learn in any situation. “Rich kids” are the stupidest kids I know. They want knowledge spoon fed to them like everything else in their lives has been by their parents. Education is availible anywhere and everywhere. The U.S. education system wastes thousands of dollars every day and accomplishes nothing that isn’t freely availible on the internet.

  24. Nelly the Salutatorian of a poor school

    Who are we to complain about this. Do you have kids you want to spoon feed knowledge or do you want to teach them to take the initiative to learn on their own. Also are the kids in these “situations” wanting a cahnge and willing to do something about it or is this a bunch of unrealted parties trying to stick their nose where it doesn’t need to be. People need to work to change their own situation not just expect others to “know what’s best for them.”

  25. Dr, Green

    Seriously? Segregation based on race in the 50s involved funding. Are poor schools less funded now? Let’s look at the real stats. Our segregation now is about the haves and havenots. Rich black kids fill quotas not social change.

  26. SB

    I feel uncomfortable about saying (what you say in effect) that it is bad for black kids to be in a majority black classroom. The corrolary to this would be that being educated with white kids in the next seat will give black kids a better education. There is no reason why either of these should be true, it seems to me. I just finished reading Condoleeza Rice’s memoir of growing up and attending public schools in segregated Bitmingham Alabama. As she presented it, her all black school was an excellent one, the teachers qualified and caring, and the students were well prepared to move on in life as productive adults. Obviously I am not advocating for segregation by fiat. But nstead of revisiting bussing or some sort of forced integration, let’s accept that there are black neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhoods, and so forth, and that the schools in those neighborhood should be high functioning and effective as majority-black or majority-Hispanic schools. Full stop.

  27. Preston Lawrence Central High W-4

    I think it is wrong for the school board to place some schools in a neiborhood full of poverty and then go and do the same thing but in a wealthy area. Schools in a community need to have the same opportunities and chances. Just because one area of the community is suffering from poverty doesnt mean they shouldnt have the same opportunity as a wealthy area.
    I think the magnet schools are doing a good thing in trying to provide even education for every one in the community. If more people would support magnet schools than I confident they would be pleased with the outcomes.

  28. Jennifer

    Doesn’t the Montgomery County example essentially support the neighborhood schools model, while also supporting diversity?

    I think you’ll find that many Wake County supporters of neighborhood schools are not Tea Partiers or whatever, but are looking for a way not to send ~5% of their children across the county for hours on buses — at the cost of ~$70 million — when those dollars could be better spent toward actual education.

    Be careful of all the statistics you read on this topic. If you torture numbers enough, they’ll tell you anything.

  29. elena

    Single parent families are far more common in high poverty residential areas. No amount of government band-aiding is going to solve the social problem of a weaker family structure. It requires a sea change in the personal values of the residents.

  30. dthartley

    Busing has never worked.It starts with the parents and their emphasis on education and reading at home.It starts with getting the teachers union out of education.The brightest kids I know come out of home schooling and do schoolwork throughout the day all year without even knowing they are working at it.They are cleaning everyone elses clocks in testing and go at a faster pace.You don’t wait around for busing crap.YOu take it in your hands and change things at home.

  31. Susan

    Usually in school calculations, “poverty” is defined by being eligible for free or reduced lunch. I don’t know the stats on how that matches up with the “poverty line” or the link cited above. I do know that there are many, many schools (I teach in one of them) with 80-90% (or more) of the students eligible for free or reduced lunch. 21% of the nation’s children may live in poverty overall, but that allows for many children to attend schools with very low poverty and many children to attend schools with very high poverty (and of course, some in the middle). That 21% of the nation is NOT spread equally among the nation’s schools. And the 35% of African American children or 33% of Latino children living below the poverty line, again, NOT spread equally. This situation clusters large numbers of kids dealing with many issues in one building. That inevitably makes the education process more challenging for those kids and their teachers.

    I don’t think the author is suggesting that it was better during legal segregation. And whether one specific type of program is the answer or not, I think it is interesting to notice that although LEGAL segregation is over, informal segregation is rampant. For instance, when I teach about the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, I always run into an awkward conversation because 100% of my school’s students are African American and Latino. So to say “Now white and black children go to school together” is technically true but somewhat disingenuous. It’s certainly much better that there are no legal barriers to integrated schools. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are LOTS of extra-legal barriers.

    Personally, I don’t think that integration is important only because somehow we’ll all magically learn from being near someone different from us – but I do think that as a democratic society, if we allow our children to grow up never having interacted with anyone of a different race, class, belief system, etc etc, they will suffer in the end. And if we allow ourselves to believe that because we have an African American president, racism is dead, we’re all the poorer for it as well.

  32. Candace

    @Vinny: Liberals do not want everyone to be stupid. They simply want everyone to have the same opportunity to excel.

    @Kasey: Yes poverty affects all classes, but disproportionately. Poor is poor, but minorities tend to be poorer and whites tend to be richer. Even for two people who work the same job: one black male and one white male, the white male will get paid more. With poverty comes a host of other issues, such as teachers not being paid well enough, wanting to get out of the inner city schools because it’s just not worth it to stay considering their income, lack of textbooks, lack of equipment and other issues cited in this article. So yes, a multi-pronged approach is the only solution here. I’m so sorry the magnet school idea didn’t work because it sounds great.

    @Phil: “If I managed, so can others” You are assuming that all people have the same opportunities, which is not true. Not all blacks and minorities are able to get a job with a decent income: whether due to their educational attainment level or due to, in spite of their qualifications, employers are less likely to higher them simply due to race. Without a decent income, they cannot save up the money to move to a great school district. They have to do what they can, which sometimes means remaining poor.

  33. Kristi Walker

    “American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago.”

    And you lose credibility in this first line of your post. Therefore, we can assume the rest of your information is just as erroneous.

    It’s tough to play the race card when the President is black, the richest woman in the country is black, the highest paid athletes are black, and we have women on the Supreme Court…one of them being the most recent appointee and a Latino. At some point, you’ve got to actually look at the facts and get real. Black children, Latino children and white children are now on even playing fields. If they, meaning any color child/family, don’t succeed it’s because they chose not to. There are opportunities to be had in America for all, but laziness and entitlement aren’t colors. You can call it whatever you want, but those two things are the only thing keeping any child/person from succeeding. They’ll have to deal with that.

    Statistics are not truth. Everyone knows they can be manipulated, not to mention you left out the fact that populace alone plays some role in statistical numbers. There are more white people in this country at this time; So yes, there’s going to be more white students at this time.

  34. malachilageman dunmire5

    thats sad because we are all human and all of us should be treated with equal respect.there is still alot of racial profile that goes on in america at skool at home and even at a store. if there are kids who cant do certain things that an a+ student can do then they should be able to attend the same skool just different classes like special ed or just an extra class to help them with what they need.

  35. a wake county alumna

    To respond to a couple of the comments: It is assumed that diversity helps test scores because that’s what the educational data tells us. AND the data tells us that it doesn’t hurt the test scores of affluent kids.

    Schools with more than 85% of students below the poverty line are fiscal sinkholes. You have to pay teachers twice as much to get them to stay. You pour countless dollars into other programs and resources. Many students in these schools cannot even imagine life outside of poverty– they can’t imagine a college education, or even a way to avoid jail. This is why it is important that they have peers who can help show them that there is hope, that there is a future. Anyone who has watched teenagers knows that they are at least as influenced by their peers as they are influenced by their teachers.

    But let’s be clear: re-segregation is a tragedy for everyone. We become more generous, more compassionate people when we know and understand the challenges our neighbor faces.

  36. a wake county alumna

    Those of you who think you’re saving money by keeping schools segregated are vastly misled. Your federal tax dollars are being spent on school systems (other than your own) which cannot stay afloat otherwise, and the cost of these school systems is much, much, much higher than they would be if they were integrated.

  37. Rayshell H.

    As an African American teenager, I understand the difficulties there to being a less fortunate minority in a prodominately caucasian society. The opportunity that these inner city kids are given can greatly change their future. If their future is changed for the better, the future of our nation will be changed for the better. These inner city children to be appreciative for this opportunity given to them to experience a world outside of their own.
    Segregation is very much so present in our society today, it is just not as visible. Many public schools and upper leveled private schools are predominately white, yet there is just enough “color” for them not to be considered racist. The vision of Dr. King has not yet been fulfilled, we as a nation and as a world have a lot more work to do. Things have physically gotten better in the past 43 years, but there is still segregation present through the way people are viewed.

  38. jadeNC

    Ask yourself why is it that we put ALL of our focus on the below average kids? I attended a tour of one of the better wake county public schools today and saw just how much the focus is on making every kid average. There is no incentive to excel. We spend all of money and efforts on making sure that low achieving children are bought up to the average, that we fail to see that we are neglecting the children that have a greater potential. Average citizens will not lead this country. Exceptional citizens lead. If we continue down this path of neglecting our exceptional children we will cease to be the great country that we once were.

  39. megan hutton block 1

    Im glad now day that we have segragted school. i would have hated to lived back when they dident.I cant even magain how life was back then we think we have it hard now.. hmmm maybe we should think of life as one of then. I feel so sad for they way blacks and other races were treated back then. some people say it might happend again is that true? do you think it could ever happen? i would hate to live in poverty or attend a school that says this is for so and so race i find it cruel and something i would hate to go through but im glad that 48 yrs ago martin luther had the curage to stand up and do what he thought was best. MARIT LUTHER DID WHAT WAS RIGHT LETS NOT REPEAT THIS!

  40. Rayshell Humphrey

    In the resoponse to all of those whom said South is being taken over by the Latino/Mexican/Spaniard heritages, that is absurd. There are a lot of us but we are not taking over. In my opinion South has always been predominately caucasian. As an African American, Latino, Indian, Puerto Rican young woman i think this is hilarious. I am not saying that there are not more Mexicans that attend our school but taking over South? That seems a little extreme.

  41. bfrey

    i think instead of blaming the obama administration, people should be going after the specific school districts that are segragating the schools. some of the percentages about 70% white 30% black or latino is just beacuse there are more white people than minorities in the area.

    how about you take towns with multiple schools like salina and take kids of a minority or white kids and even out the schools by transfers.

  42. Ashley Hauke

    I think this article says it all. Most amercians are more segrigated by race. Mostly because some americans have a problem with blacks or mexicans or even chineese. And also its the other way around to. Mexicans have problems with chineese and whites. Then also Blacks have a problem with whites and mexicans.

    This article says it all. Not every american likes certain races. And not all mexicans like whites. Not all chineese like whites or mexicans. So most people judge others by their color,their looks, the clothest they wear. But most of all people judge you by ur race, religon,and the way you act.

  43. Dylan Giffin

    To say the solution to this problem is chaulked up to eliminating a complicated issue that’s been facing our economic and social environment for 50 years is naive and overly deductive. That is about as much a conclusion to segregation as saying “all we have to do to eliminate flooding is stop water from going up”. It’s not so simple to just reform things that are out of our power. But I think it’s most important to micro-manage the spending of schools to prevent misuse of funds like iPads for attendance. It is also more about the distribution of teachers, not students. It would be a much cheaper solution to coordinate the teachers. I don’t know how applicable that is though.

  44. I. Freely

    No Parents at home, one parent at home trying to make more babies for another check and food stamps, does not make for a healthy home life and their education starts, and they learn from the parent and the cycle starts all over again, don”t forget to include Prison bound later as an adult

  45. Barbara B.

    I feel that this successes and failures are so for a variety of factors. Some success stories I’ll cite are anecdotal.

    First, the success of schools such as the much lauded HCZ is due to many factors, two of which are their prenatal work, and the fact that students who do not succeed to their bar generally leave. Do you know that professional parents talk directly TO their children at the rate of 2,100 words per hour as compared to the 600 words per hour for children of non-professional/poor parents? Children begin their lives at a greater verbal disadvantage even in pre-school. Children of poorer parents have less exposure to zoos, museums, libraries, and anything that would help expand their knowledge base. On top of that, the academic rigor at HCZ and similar schools is difficult for students who enter in later grades. Many of those students change schools or drop out and are not in the reported data. My point being that even new parents need to be educated to help bring up children from the cradle and/or work much harder supporting their children when they are faced with rigorous schooling.

    Second, understanding that placing low SES students with high SES students was meant to give those lower students access to the same educational tools (teachers, library, computers, books, etc). Giving disadvantaged students access to superior tools can work in many cases, except when those students go home to fewer books, computers or libraries in their neighborhoods. Imagine writing a paper on the causes of the decline of the Roman Empire without research or learning to read with a parent who is illiterate or who does not speak English. Working with parents to support student learning is vital.

    Third, integrating schools was as much to give students cultural sensitivity as for academics. A class of diverse students should allow each to see similarities as well as differences in study habits, goals and aspirations, exposure to lifestyle choices that would (hopefully) give insight into career goals, therefore leading to higher academic achievement and better lifestyle choices. In this way, students would be raised up and have an expanded world view. As much as is humanly possible, the teacher need to bring students together to see thier similarities before differences, be intolerant of intolerance, and keep students focused on the task of learning first.

    Is it because we now have better access to studies and tools that we see these results more clearly now? Is it that we expected to be farther along in achieving MLK’s dream? His perfect dream is still peopled with imperfect individuals. The work continues but we still must tirelessly work toward the goal.

    Thank you, I printed this when I got the link and this was the first chance I had to respond.


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