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"little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
January 17, 2011 10:40 AM   Subscribe

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."
posted by Fizz (55 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even those of us who attend diverse school (I'm a white girl attending a school that is 35% white and 46% free/reduced lunch) often find that the advanced classes are far more white+east asian and the regular classes are where the diversity actually shows. I've attended two high schools, both were the same.
posted by R a c h e l at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had the same experience R a c h e l, I was placed in honors/AP courses and they were predominantly filled with whites/asians. And as a result of this our lunches were also segregated in a sense as those of us in these courses had lunch at the same time.
posted by Fizz at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2011


You know what? White people and better-off people of all races have moved out of crumbling cities. That's an economic problem, and it's not that surprising, considering almost everyone wants to pay lip-service to King's legacy on race, but would prefer to forget that he was also an anti-war radical who stood up for the poor.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:46 AM on January 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


We could solve all of this economic segregation by increasing the price of gas to $9/gallon.
posted by The Giant Squid at 10:52 AM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


We could solve all of this economic segregation by increasing the price of gas to $9/gallon.

Umm.....
posted by Fizz at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2011


We could solve all of this economic segregation by increasing the price of gas to $9/gallon.

Umm.....
posted by Fizz at 12:57 PM on January 17 [+] [!]


$9/gallon might force people who have moved far out into the suburbs to move back closer to urban centers - where diversity seems to be more prevalent.
posted by jillithd at 11:00 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Woe unto any politician and/or his or her party that raises gas prices to so high a level--pricing at the national level? a federal tax that high? and what would that do to the car and oil industry, other than create further unemployment.

Basically you are saying that you want to penalize those who have earned sufficient money to move to an area where the schools systems are good so that they are not able to move?

Why not create better schools so that people might not feel an urge to move? That way you do not penalize people.
posted by Postroad at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Postroad: "Woe unto any politician and/or his or her party that raises gas prices to so high a level--pricing at the national level? a federal tax that high? and what would that do to the car and oil industry, other than create further unemployment"

Well, it would be a nice payback for what GM did to all teh streetcars in the 50s.
posted by notsnot at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


What do you mean by "create better schools," exactly, Postroad? It's not like building a factory with state-of-the-art machinery and all of the a sudden the entire culture surrounding the school changes to pro-education.
posted by griphus at 11:19 AM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I live in the Wake County school district referenced in the article. Two years ago, I was in a play about desegregation in Raleigh (I even played Jesse Helms, among other people). It took Raleigh nearly twenty years from Brown to integrate its schools, and then only because the Supreme Court stepped in and forced them to implement a busing program. One of the ways they stalled was something called the Pearsall Plan--they drew school districts along racial neighborhood lines, so that schools were segregated in reality, though not in name.

Blows my mind that in 2011, we're going back to that bullshit.
posted by EarBucket at 11:21 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Up here in T.O. Canada we also have the Afrocentric school. (An old article.)
posted by Fizz at 11:25 AM on January 17, 2011


My apologies, previously posted on metafilter.
posted by Fizz at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2011


We could solve all of this economic segregation by increasing the price of gas to $9/gallon.

We could also do it by raising the price of gas to $1,000,000 a gallon, but raising prices artificially is just a bad idea. It's like saying "only rich people can afford X vaccine, so let's make it so expensive that they die too!"
posted by blue_beetle at 11:33 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


but raising prices artificially is just a bad idea.

Or we could stop artificially lowering them.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think gas already costs as much as $9/gallon in some places. In Europe it is probably about $7/gallon right now.
posted by snofoam at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am fully aware of the past: I have been to the trolley museum in Ct, where a film is shown about it (ps: the company lost and was fine one dollar!), but the population has grown since that time, and many people live in rural areas, and not in what is here thought of as "suburbs." Do they pay 9 bucks a gallon when the closest city might be 60 miles away? And how much would you then pay in tax for a gallon if the cars became electric?

What we simply don't want to think about, esp. on Martin Luther King Day:
We refer to "smart Jews" and "smart Asians" and say that it is the culture which shapes them (since all folks we are told have about the same intelligence levels), but for Blacks and Hispanics we prefer to talk not about culture but rather racism and poverty.
ps: lest anyone accuse me of racism, my daughter-in-law is Black/Indian and her daughter, my grandchild, a super achiever with straight grades in every subject, year after year.
posted by Postroad at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2011


We refer to "smart Jews" and "smart Asians" and say that it is the culture which shapes them (since all folks we are told have about the same intelligence levels), but for Blacks and Hispanics we prefer to talk not about culture but rather racism and poverty.

Who's this "we" you're referring to?
posted by EarBucket at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Poor people still have to eat and buy things. These things are delivered by trucks. If gas costs 9 dollars per gallon, then suddenly it costs a lot of money to ship food to cities. Although it would be nice if more people live in better cities a sudden increase in gas taxes won't do much other than fuck over the poor (and at 9 dollars per gallon, the middle class too).
posted by codacorolla at 11:48 AM on January 17, 2011



I think gas already costs as much as $9/gallon in some places. In Europe it is probably about $7/gallon right now


Yup, in Dublin when I was there over Xmas, gas was 1.40 EUR/L, which google calculator tells me is 7.04 USD/gal.
posted by antifuse at 11:50 AM on January 17, 2011


If gas costs 9 dollars per gallon, then suddenly it costs a lot of money to ship food to cities.

By truck maybe.

The 9 dollars per gallon figure does seem a bit steep, but it's been that way in Europe for years now and their poor still manage to eat. Imagine if the money spent on subsidizing gas production was funneled into updating our infrastructure so as to not be so reliant on cars? Or on social welfare programs?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Greece is 1.50-1.60 Eu/L. Roughly $7.5-8/gallon
posted by ersatz at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2011


...but for Blacks and Hispanics we prefer to talk not about culture but rather racism and poverty.

That's because Blacks and Hispanics are a whole lot more likely to suffer the effects of institutionalized (and, all-too-occasionally, straight-up) racism and be forced back down into the projects and ghettos they are trying to escape. Live in the projects long enough where no one, schooling or not, can get out, and you stop believing that school matters at all when, in fact, it's one of the few things that is a way out.

ps: lest anyone accuse me of racism, my daughter-in-law is Black/Indian and her daughter, my grandchild, a super achiever with straight grades in every subject, year after year.

Seriously? Are we still doing this "I'm not racist, I have a black friend" bullshit?
posted by griphus at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I, too, believe that gas prices is what Dr. King was really talking about. How we have failed him.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Imagine if the money spent on subsidizing gas production was funneled into updating our infrastructure so as to not be so reliant on cars? Or on social welfare programs?

Should have read: imagine if the money spent on subsidizing gas production was funneled into updating our infrastructure or spent on social welfare programs.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2011


$9/gallon might force people who have moved far out into the suburbs to move back closer to urban centers - where diversity seems to be more prevalent.

Gentrification creates the same situation in exchanged places. Europe has slums, too.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:59 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


$9/gallon might force people who have moved far out into the suburbs to move back closer to urban centers - where diversity seems to be more prevalent.

But if you're jacking up gas prices to encourage the affluent to move into the cities, you'll drive up demand for urban property, which may displace low-income people -- possibly to those now-abandoned suburbs.
posted by Gelatin at 12:04 PM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, all expensive gas would do is push poor people out to the undesired places-the suburbs. Only then they'd have even less infrastructure to count on than they do now.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:05 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I demand cokes.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:06 PM on January 17, 2011


jillithd: $9/gallon might force people who have moved far out into the suburbs to move back closer to urban centers - where diversity seems to be more prevalent.

I can't help but think the two most likely possibilities would be:

A. The employers move into the suburbs, where their employees are, and the urban centers crumble more.

or

B. The wealthy people move back into the urban centers, property values rise, gentrification happens, and the poor people are priced out into the crumbling suburbs.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:06 PM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


EarBucket,

I can only give one data point, mine, which at it's core is fleeing the urban city but I think the reality is more nuanced.

I grew up in Queens NY which I would have loved to stay in, buy a house and try to get my kid into a magnet school. However, I was priced out, moved to NJ where commuting was easier than from Queens. Flash forward 9 years and a 4 year old, I realize the area I am in have shitty schools (as per schooldigger.com). I spend the next 6 months researching school districts and 2 years later end up in a predominately white community with a large Asian minority.

It's these individual choices that people feel are best for their families that have a cumulative effect of segregating schools. I have family that have kids in not great school districts and when I implore them to move to mine, I hear responses ranging from It's too far, too expensive, the school here is right down the street, too white, too Asian. These points were a very small factor for me. Education was probably worth 90% of the weight I assigned to where I ended up. This may not be the case for minority groups as a whole where perhaps family, commuting, affordable housing is more of a weight.

Its sad what is happening, but it is because people (if able) are making the sort of family decisions that end up segregating society as a whole. But on the family level there is nothing wrong about their decisions.
posted by MrMulan at 12:10 PM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I went to college in Wayne, New Jersey, a rich white suburb that sat right on top of a mountain beneath which were the impoverished streets of Paterson. And it's seemed to me that the solution is to stop funding schools locally through property taxes but instead to fund them, minimally, through the state level so that the rich could no longer avoid their responsibility to the poor children of their very states in favor of their own. Having attended college with both students who went to District Factor Group J schools, where students were offered every opportunity to succeed through excellent academics and extracurriculars, and District Factor A schools like Newark, the differences in both the racial make-up and the eventual success of these groups is palpable and obvious.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's these individual choices that people feel are best for their families that have a cumulative effect of segregating schools.

Exactly. It is hard to fault parents who want their children to have the best possible opportunity, but doing so involves moving one's family and one's tax money somewhere with schools that do not have crumbling infrastructure, constant teacher rotation (I'm looking at you, Teach For America alumni,) and all of the other problems endemic to schools in impoverished areas.

It's a vicious circle that can't just be fixed by putting a few computers in the classroom or creating a magnet/voucher/charter system. I wish I had half an idea as to what to do, but I really do not.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on January 17, 2011


Its sad what is happening, but it is because people (if able) are making the sort of family decisions that end up segregating society as a whole. But on the family level there is nothing wrong about their decisions.

I think this is true. And I think stories like these reveal that we need to engage in comprehensive school funding reform. The search for good schools is huge part of the story of the civic and economic and environmental disaster that is urban sprawl. We've got to fund schools at the state level, not the local level.
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:20 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate to add on to the gas price derail, but I wanted to add an opinion that I feel very strongly about.

Yes, cities have been dying at the expense of the suburbs for decades. And yes, I am a young city dweller who loves urban life. It's easy for me to say, "fuck those commuters, raise gas prices and get on the commuter rail line."

But espousing that view is marginalizing another group entirely: the rural folk. I grew up in rural Minnesota where a car or truck isn't a luxury but a necessity. You live miles from anything and everything. People are low middle class and money is tight. You want to go to church? That's a drive. How about driving your kid to school in the next town over? That's a thirty minute drive. You want to go to the bigger town with the shopping center? That's an hour. And God forbid you want to go to the big city and go to the museum or catch a show, well that is four hours round trip.

To raise gas to $9/gallon might bring people from the suburbs in, but it would permanently strand the rural Americans, who are on average some of the poorest. They have no public transit option and never will. This is a big country with lots of open land and we need to remember there are people there too.
posted by boubelium at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


Gas stuff aside, I went to a school where there was a pretty decent mix and also noticed the thing where within the school, everyone was quite segregated. I don't care if schools represented the cultural diversity of the area they exist in and I don't believe in bussing kids across town just so that the white kids can see what black kids look like. But I do think that there is something deeply wrong if your surrounding community is about 50% white and the honors/AP track at the local high school is about 90% white.

The white kids were definitely not smarter. I noticed that overall, the administration seemed much quicker to assume that white kids were college-bound, and much less likely to be seen as troublemakers even when they *were* troublemakers. I didn't necessarily *want* mostly white friends, but I made friends with the people I was in class with. Kids do divide themselves up to a certain degree, but I don't think there was any distinction really made by racial background so long as you were in the honors program--but getting into that program was clearly another story entirely.

If the white people all want to live in their own neighborhoods, whatever. But if kids are not getting equal access to the educational resources? That's a serious problem. Funding should not go more towards white neighborhoods, resources within schools should not go more towards white kids, you would think this should be something that this long after MLK we would all regard as obvious... but evidently it isn't.
posted by gracedissolved at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2011


What we simply don't want to think about, esp. on Martin Luther King Day:
We refer to "smart Jews" and "smart Asians" and say that it is the culture which shapes them (since all folks we are told have about the same intelligence levels), but for Blacks and Hispanics we prefer to talk not about culture but rather racism and poverty.


Racism and poverty (or wealth disparity) have a lot to do with the ethnic minority experience in America and it isn't limited to Blacks and Hispanics. Unfortunately, there is a lot of cherry-picking in these discussions. For example, Southeast Asians have high dropout rates. These students (Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, etc.) often come from poorer backgrounds, have parents who immigrated as refugees (rather than wealthy educated workers), and have darker skin.

A blogger named Abagond has done a great job pulling together various resources and arguments on this topic so rather than just crib from him I'll link.

The intelligence of Asians: a brief history: 1840-2010: In the 1960s America eased limits on Asian immigration, but favoured those with better educations, like doctors, nurses, engineers and university students. A side effect of that brain drain has been the model minority stereotype, of Asians having more natural intelligence than even white people.

More on The model minority stereotype and its racist purpose: The model minority stereotype comes from whites trying to blame blacks for their condition. It lets white people believe that Asians come here with nothing and, even though they are not white, they still make it. So there must be something wrong with blacks!

By holding this stereotype, whites are not patting Asians on the back – they are patting themselves on the back!!

posted by Danila at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sandy Banks, in the LATimes, reflects on her segregated school. Sitting next to some white guy isn't an automatic benefit.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2011


Ideefixe, did you link to the wrong thing? I got a page, in Russian, of Soviet-era posters. A thing I love, but not the LATimes.
posted by not that girl at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, hey, those posters are on the front page! I'm going to go post a link to this thread in that one, with a comment like, "Here are some other great Soviet posters!" This will complete the circle in a satisfying way.
posted by not that girl at 2:15 PM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


We refer to "smart Jews" and "smart Asians" and say that it is the culture which shapes them (since all folks we are told have about the same intelligence levels), but for Blacks and Hispanics we prefer to talk not about culture but rather racism and poverty.

Every group may have it's own culture, but the culture of society as a whole has a great impact on who succeeds and who doesn't. Racism and poverty are part of that culture. It's not that some people "happen" to be poor. Our society has dedicated itself to maintaining a permanent underclass, the existence of which benefits all of us who are lucky enough to live above that line.

I reject the idea that segregation in schools is some sort of isolated anomaly that we all have to look at and scratch our heads over. We live in a segregated society. Our individual lives may be more integrated than ever before, but society as a whole is still actively maintains the fiction that the color of our skin is a valid line of demarcation between groups of people.

The problem will never be fixed until the majority demographic realizes that inequality and racism isn't something that one group does to another group. It's something we do to ourselves. It hurts everyone. Education in this country has suffered because we continue to accept and rationalize the belief that it's ok for some schools to be worse than other schools. All that does is set the bar at the bottom and not the top. If suburban schools are always by nature going to be better than inner city schools? Imagine how great they'd be if the urban schools were really good.

I guess if you have the means to move away from a bad school or district, then that's an option. But for those that don't have those means. Stay and fight. You don't have to fix the whole system or the whole school. Start with whatever class your child is in. Make that class better. it helps your child, and every other child in that classroom. She would always say "There's something wrong with parents who won't miss a little league game or a dance recital, but never set foot in their child's classroom" My mother was in our schools so much that people thought she worked there. And when she was in that classroom, every kid in there was her kid.

But then again, my mother is like the Batman of education. I've been out of school 20 years, and she's still at it. If she's within 100 feet of a school something goes off in her head... "There's a child in there not learning. Must yell at someone until this injustice is no more."
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:19 PM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


And it's seemed to me that the solution is to stop funding schools locally through property taxes but instead to fund them, minimally, through the state level so that the rich could no longer avoid their responsibility to the poor children of their very states in favor of their own.

They do that in a few states (mine included). In my experience, having lived under both systems, it does not seem to work out any better than local funding, and in some ways is decidedly worse.
posted by madajb at 2:29 PM on January 17, 2011


I think I came across an article once that showed that African Americans are overwhelmingly placed in remedial classes, even though they don't belong there. It was a very good article and after ten minutes of googling, I can't find it.
posted by anniecat at 2:40 PM on January 17, 2011


Putting on my tinfoil hat, I wonder what will happen when we go full-voucher and dismantle public schools because, shock of shocks, kids who come from generational poverty don't act like kids who come from educated households that supply most or some of good ol' Maslow's hierarchy of needs but nobody wants to invest in helping these kids anymore because it's too expensive, takes up too many resources, and is too difficult? Prisons are NOT cheaper than education with support services.

Sorry, this topic just really gets to me, so I'll apologize if I come off a bit over-the-top. Well-cared-for-kids of educated parents will do well no matter which school they go to. Will they get the full smorgasbord of AP/IB classes and extracurriculars if they go to the urban school? No. But they will receive an education in humanity. And if kids don't learn how to interact with different kids from different circumstances in the classroom, when else in their lives are they going to learn this very valuable skill? I'm not naive enough to say that they'll necessarily eat lunch together--kids often self-segregate, it's true, but SOME do--but class time for a few years goes a long way in helping all of them: rich, poor, whatever cultural background.

/been there, done that, glad parents didn't mortgage the house to send me to the private school
posted by smirkette at 2:43 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


n the 1960s America eased limits on Asian immigration, but favoured those with better educations, like doctors, nurses, engineers and university students. A side effect of that brain drain has been the model minority stereotype, of Asians having more natural intelligence than even white people.

I don't know about that. Anecdotally, a lot of our Indian friends who grew up in the US had parents who ran Indian grocery stores, gas stations, hotels/motels, etc., and their kids were stand out students who went to college and professional schools like law, medical, dental, pharmacy, business etc. My husband's father came here in the early 70s and worked as a bank teller by day and a janitor by night. Though he'd had a decent education in India (a Bachelor's in Commerce that was useless) and didn't go on to further education, he landed a job that paid decently and was fairly secure.

It's never made a difference if the parents were doctors or well off professionals. The culture in India emphasizes education, and coming to a country where the only leverage you'll ever have is determined by professional status and earning power, it's really necessary to do well, especially since the parents sacrifice so much so you have the opportunity to do well here.
posted by anniecat at 2:51 PM on January 17, 2011


You might want to read what was offered some time ago, Pat Moynihan's work on these issues, done back in the 1960s, and available now because his letters just brought out as a book.
He talks about dysfunctional families.
Of course kids who come from educated household are more likely to value education, but that said, we are talking about "household" and that generally means a functioning family.
Want examples that things do not have to be as they are? Read The Color of Water, in which a white woman married to a Black man (he dies and she marries another) has some 6 children and every one of them a college grad and in a profession. Read it and see how this came about.
Generational education? my father never graduated high school. I have a Ph.D.
Dismiss culture if you will, but than saying racism is the answer just doesn't alter a thing.
Can you wave a wand and get rid of racism? Look at the nonsense we have with a light-skinned well-spoken, Harvard educated, brilliant mind, Pres. Obama. Sort of like saying bullying is no good and has to go. Has it? Will it?
How many friends have you (yes, you) that are not white, not with your background that you spend a good deal of time with, that you go out with, or have over for drinks, or party with on a fairly regular basis?
posted by Postroad at 2:59 PM on January 17, 2011


Sandy Banks in LAT. ( Sticky ipad finger.)
posted by Ideefixe at 3:41 PM on January 17, 2011


Moynihan's work has had the unfortunate side effect of legitimizing racism for a lot of people based on simply calling it "culture" rather than "race," I've noticed. Not trying to call you out, Postroad, but I've just seen it come up quite a bit elsewhere, where people will make horribly racist comments and then back it up with, "well, you know, Pat Moynihan..."

As for education, there are no simple answers, to be sure, but ending localized funding would seem to be the most important thing to do, and the one that's never, ever going to happen based on politics as they stand today. (Thankfully neither will the gas thing, but that's another story.)

Generational poverty perpetuates itself in general. Most families without money or education will de-emphasize the importance of education, or else just have severely limited resources with which to promote it. Now those families in turn get to have the worst schools to send their kids to as well. Postroad, you mention that your grandfather never finished high school, and yet here you are with a PhD. Great for you (though you don't mention your other grandfather, I see) but let me ask you this: how often do you see that go in the other direction?

There are two more things which obviously are unquantifiable and intangible i terms of their benefits, but which I see as indirect "goods" to come from having schools be funded equally. If the schools are functionally identical in terms of quality, then families have less incentive to move. This means 1.) that the kids have a stable home in which to grow up. I actually don't know if this confers any real benefit at all, but I just know that it's something I'd want for my family and as a kid would want myself. 2.) It provides the foundation for a more stable, and thus neighborly, community. The benefits of this I hope are clear.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:50 PM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was born in Raleigh. I attended Wake County public schools from kindergarten through my senior year of high school, and during that time I can honestly say I was exposed to a wider variety of people--different races, religions, economic backgrounds--than I ever did in undergrad, grad school, or the work force. In elementary school, my parents sent me to the magnet school 40 minutes away in what was then still a fairly run-down part of downtown because it was the best school in the county.

The current school board members largely represent the influx of newcomers who have flocked to Wake County in the last 20 years. They don't understand, or don't want to understand, how the socioeconomic diversity strategy that the school system devised all those years ago has been the engine driving much of that influx. They are ideologues who want to impose their own beliefs on the region under the banner of "choice." Ultimately, they will fail. When the system begins to re-segregate as Charlotte's did, those parents living near schools that become high-poverty, majority-minority schools will watch their property values drop like a stone. And the segregationists on the school board will be out on their asses. My concern is how much damage they will do to the schools before then, and how long it will take to repair it.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:52 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


ending localized funding would seem to be the most important thing to do, and the one that's never, ever going to happen based on politics as they stand today.

I give you the republic of Vermont.

Thing is, education is not a fungible commodity. Given the best will in the world, I really don't think that teaching ability can be apportioned in any kind of fair or reasonable fashion any more than a talent for singing or writing deathless prose can be. How many truly memorable teachers can you remember in your life?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:34 PM on January 17, 2011


my mother is like the Batman of education

Mmmm... Does she have a cool superhero car... an educational bat cave, some sort of librarian/teacher cape? Enquiring minds need to know!
posted by greenhornet at 4:45 PM on January 17, 2011


Jonathan Kozol wrote a book a couple of years ago on this exact topic called "The Shame of the Nation". He stated (I think in the first page/paragraph) that MLK would roll over in his grave if he saw the [re-segregated] state of public schools today. I work in a High School in East New York, Brooklyn and it is 70% African American, 27% Hispanic and 3% other. (with other including Caucasian, East Asian, South East Asian etc.). The majority of the schools in the surrounding (low income) neighborhoods I'm sure have pretty similar makeups, as do/did the schools that Kozol visited mainly in the South Bronx. It is heartbreaking! (The conditions/neglect/enviroments etc within the schools- this students are overlooked and ignored and I think many students 'fight back' by refusing to engage with school in many ways- shunning the institutions that have shunned them. Just my opinion, please don't jump on me!). His earlier books Savage Inequalities and Amazing Grace will knock you out.

I really think these issues are so hard to deal with and to resolve...it's much much easier to talk about gas prices (and what affects 'us'- presumably most past our own school days with children most likely in reasonably performing high schools). I don't have any easy solutions and Jonothan Kozol said that he feels that he has watched 40 years go by with little to no change..except in the wrong direction. Anyway, back to school tomorrow. Will be thinking about this.
posted by bquarters at 6:02 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reality seems to be a bit more complex than the quick resegregation conclusion being argued here, at least based on the data in the report (which clicks through to this study.)

For one thing, the underlying study notes that the country was much more white in 1968, since a major reform that increased immigration a lot began in 1965. They also define "heavily segregated schools" as schools that are 90-100% minority, and then conclude that -- hey, guess what? Only 0.4% of whites are in such schools. Well, yeah, by definition very few would be.

I'm not saying resegregation doesn't exist -- it's nearly an explicit goal of many Republicans -- but I'd like to see some more evenhanded data. Here's an interesting point, for example:

Even as black and Latino students are becoming more isolated, the typical white child is in a school that is more diverse than the school white children attended a generation ago. This factor makes it especially hard for whites to understand the degree to which resegregation has taken place. In 1988, 53% of white students attended schools that were 90-100% white, but that number has slipped to 36% in the newest data.
posted by msalt at 10:26 PM on January 17, 2011


It has always seemed curious to me that "desegregation" has turned into taking a particular group of students, loading them onto buses, and driving them to unfamiliar schools in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

And then we expect these over tired, stressed out students to excel.

Why is there this attitude that schools in poor areas can't be improved?
posted by gjc at 7:04 AM on January 18, 2011


Hmm. A lot of kids take buses without desegregation; not sure "tired, stressed out" is always the result.

This discussion overlaps the current Culture of Poverty discussion. One answer is, there's a lot of dysfunction in poverty neighborhoods that can make good schooling difficult. Social pressure against or for education makes a big difference in education.

Or, maybe the schools ARE good but test results are dragged down by social realities in those neighborhoods, or unfairly buoyed in more affluent neighborhoods.
posted by msalt at 11:01 AM on January 20, 2011


It's not clear from the underlying report's data that what is going on is really best described as segregation. White students are in much LESS monochromatic schools than in even 1988 much less 1968, and the overall minority population is much higher.

What appears to be happening is that a lot of immigrants have arrived and are in schools schools with lots of minorities. I'm not sure that's necessarily bad, despite the alarming headline. Haven't first generation immigrants always grouped together in ethnic neighborhoods?
posted by msalt at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2011


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