Is desegregation dead in public education?
Fifty-eight years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, many education scholars and advocates are taking a renewed look at whether the nation's public schools have returned to segregation because of where people choose to (or sometimes, have no choice to) live. We see the results all over the Tampa area — schools where more than 90 percent of the students are poor, or black, or Hispanic, as well as schools where students are predominantly white, with little poverty.
As the schools grow more divided, the question arises about how to tackle any inequalities that emerge. Should communities return to busing? Is separate but equal education acceptable, provided the education truly is equal? Does school choice provide an answer?
The NY Times gathered some commenters, from adults who were bused when children to academics, to give their views and suggestions. Among them:
Richard Kahlenberg, the Century Foundation: "While the news media routinely shower attention on high-poverty schools that work, research shows that middle-class schools are 22 times more likely to be high performing than high-poverty schools. Poor children can learn to high levels, but they are much more likely to do so if they are surrounded by peers with big dreams, a community of parents who are in a position to volunteer in class and know how to hold school officials accountable and talented teachers with high expectations."
Terry L. Stoops, John Locke Foundation: "Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the state’s second-largest school district, discontinued its race-based busing program and implemented a policy that combined parental choice with neighborhood school assignment. It was a sea change for the district that had been at the center of a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision that led to the widespread adoption of forced busing in the South. So, how do low-income students in the districts compare? The performance of disadvantaged students in Wake County has stalled. In contrast, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s reading and math test scores, as well as graduation rates, have surged."
Donna Bivens, Union of Minority Neighborhoods in Boston: "In our busing and desegregation project at the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, we are listening and learning from Boston’s crisis. We are trying to openly discuss how racism and class inequity thwart school integration and undermine the creation of high quality, equitable school systems."
What do you see in your public school system? Are leaders there trying to mitigate for segregation that exists? If so, what's working and what's not?