desegregation never happened
December 15, 2017 7:57 AM   Subscribe

School segregation didn’t go away. It just evolved.

“Schools are segregated because white people want them that way"
That’s what Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times Magazine writer and recipient of a prestigious “genius grant,” told me in a recent interview. “Genius grant” is the popular term for the MacArthur fellowship, a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant awarded to 24 “exceptionally creative people” each year.

Hannah-Jones was selected this year for her probing work on segregation in American society [previously], particularly in housing and education. She’s probably best known for her two award-winning stories “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” [previously] and “The Problem We All Live With.”

I reached out to her this week after her grant was announced. We talked about the myths surrounding segregation in America, why it’s so damn hard to explain structural racism, and why she remains deeply cynical about America’s future.
Are Private Schools Immoral?
In a recent episode of The Atlantic Interview, Nikole Hannah-Jones and The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, discuss how integrated schools are good for white children and black children.

“If one were to believe that having people who are different from you makes you smarter, that you engage in a higher level of thinking, that you solve problems better, there are higher-level ways that integration is good for white folks,” Jones says.

For black children, the benefits of attending an integrated school are much more drastic. “It’s literally, will you receive a quality education or not? Will you be a full citizen in the country of your birth?”

In a hyper-competitive economy where test scores and college admissions and lifetimes earnings are all linked, Hannah-Jones has seen that the soft benefits of integration, like empathy or compassion, are low on a family’s priority list. “Most white people are willing to trade that,” she has found.
How charter schools are prolonging segregation
The segregated state of our schools helps maintain the inequitable funding that determines families’ educational options. When the government-backed Home Owner’s Loan Corporation developed color-coded maps to sort out who could receive mortgage lending, blacks who lived in the red sections of the map were not given loans. And of course, the most well-resourced schools just happen to be located in the most expensive neighborhoods.

The Brookings team looked closely at district lines, and they found that if you remove them, many schools become more racially imbalanced. It seems to me that wealthy neighborhoods are using district lines to leverage themselves against demographic shifts. According to EdBuild, a non-profit focused on school finance issues, the most egregious cases of segregation are shown by the roughly 36 districts that were formed since 2000 as a result of secession — when a school district splits from a larger one.
Charter Schools Do Not Further Segregation - "The reality is that many charters, as well as district schools, reflect their location and community’s housing patterns. When comparing charter schools in these areas to their neighboring district schools, you will see similar demographic patterns."

FRANKENBERG, Erica; SIEGEL-HAWLEY, Genevieve; WANG, Jia.Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation. education policy analysis archives, [S.l.], v. 19, p. 1, jan. 2011. ISSN 1068-2341.
Our findings suggest that charters currently isolate students by race and class. This analysis of recent data finds that charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the nation. In some regions, white students are over-represented in charter schools while in other charter schools, minority students have little exposure to white students. Data about the extent to which charter schools serve low-income and English learner students is incomplete, but suggest that a substantial share of charter schools may not enroll such students. As charters represent an increasing share of our public schools, they influence the level of segregation experienced by all of our nation’s school children. After two decades, the promise of charter schools to use choice to foster integration and equality in American education has not yet been realized.
Metro areas are still racially segregated
Stark racial differences in residential location are visible to the most casual observer. Our results concur with other research concluding that differences in income alone cannot explain the degree of racial sorting in housing markets. Whether racial sorting reflects individual preferences by households of all races, or continuing institutional barriers in housing markets to non-white families, it is unlikely that existing laws will be sufficient to eliminate racial segregation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, adopted under the Obama administration, outlines a more active federal role in combating racially exclusionary practices of local governments. However, the AFFH rule is too new to judge its effectiveness – or whether the Trump administration plans to enforce it.
When Privatization Means Segregation: Setting the Record Straight on School Vouchers
Try as privatization advocates might, there is no getting around the segregationist history of school vouchers in the United States. From Milton Friedman to the recalcitrant white elites of Prince Edward County and the legislators they voted in, the forerunners of today’s “school choice” movement understood their freedom as the freedom to deny others an equal education. That history continues into the present: empirical studies of vouchers programs in the United States and internationally show that they increase segregation in schools. As a Trump administration that openly appeals to white racial resentment proposes a massive school voucher program, we would be foolish to ignore the policy’s origins.
The Untold History Of Charter Schools
- "But the Shanker tale may have also helped undermine progressive school choice advocates, who find themselves chasing a vision that has never played a major role in the inner circles of school reform. Most charters are more segregated than traditional public schools, are non-union, and when charter educators do mount union campaigns, they almost always face tremendous opposition. If the promise of unionized, integrated, teacher-centered charters has proven devilishly difficult to fulfill, it may be, in part, because the movement’s leaders never took it very seriously to begin with."

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice."

Previously: "In 2007, the Pinellas County, Florida School Board abandoned integration, joining hundreds of US school districts in former Confederacy states that have resegregated since 2000. The Board justified the vote with bold promises: Schools in poor, black neighborhoods would get more money, more staff, more resources -- none of which happened. This past August, the Tampa Bay Times published an exposé, revealing how district leaders turned five once-average schools into Failure Factories."

Many links via Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money
posted by the man of twists and turns (39 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Metro areas are still racially segregated.

For reference, the invaluable and always stunning Racial Dot Map.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:04 AM on December 15, 2017 [15 favorites]


Jeffrey Goldberg: But let’s use African-Americans as an example. Life has gotten better, no? Before there was before there was Brown v. Board of Education, there was no Brown v. Board of Education. Before there was a Civil Rights Act, there was no Civil Rights Act. We don’t live in a period of history free of lynchings, but the number of lynchings has gone down. There are more African-Americans in the middle class since Reconstruction. Life in America for African-Americans has gotten better. It’s been stutter stepped, but we ain’t in 1866 or 1873.

Nikole Hannah-Jones: I am not a slave. That's true.

Goldberg: Well … All right.

Hannah-Jones: If that’s the bar.

Goldberg: No, no, no.
Great way to start an interview, Jeff.
posted by AceRock at 8:06 AM on December 15, 2017 [55 favorites]


It seems to me that the high level of local control and funding is what leads to this sort of

The Canadian model, as far as I understand it, is that while property tax is used to fund school boards, the money is collected at the provincial level and passed down to school boards on the basis of need -- the number of students, the number of students learning English as a foreign language, the number of special ed students (mild and severe needs), then additional cash for smaller school boards to help them cope with the inefficiency of small schools and busing, and so on. It means that the schools are generally more equal so there's no need to move to a different district for better schools.

There's still local control in the form of elected school boards, they just can't get more cash because they're in Richville. (I remember reading that parent fundraising was capped so it couldn't be more than 1 or 2% of the budget to prevent that back-door way of creating inequitable schools.) This doesn't solve everything -- parental involvement is still important, so there are still better outcomes in schools in wealthier areas -- but it helps. It also means that there are fewer school districts -- my metro, Calgary, is roughly the same size as Birmingham, and there is one*district for the city, and if you live in the outlying commuter towns, there's two more, and that's it.


* pace the Catholic school board thing which is beyond the scope of this comment
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


Thanks for this great post! As a graduate of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during the time when our busing program was being widely hailed for the great success it was, true integration of our public schools is one of my real passions. My heart breaks daily to see how much more segregated public schools are now than when I was a kid, and I am passionate about Nikole Hannah-Jones' work publicizing that awful truth.

Whenever there is a story that asks "What can be done to help underperforming, high poverty schools in Atlanta?" I always yell out "Integrate them!" This week, the radio actually agreed with what I was yelling.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:22 AM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Don't forget that a school can be nominally integrated, but still segregated. The high school I went to in the early 2000s was 50% black and 50% white, but in practice "honors" classes were 100% white and "non-honors" classes were nearly 100% black, and the students did not mix at all. I ended up taking a few non-honors classes because I didn't understand the system at first, and they were truly stupendously awful -- biology was literally just memorizing lists of terms with no context, Spanish was taught by a guy who literally knew no Spanish, "technology" was prep for manning a front-line help desk. Some good came of this -- I am much more aware of racial justice and class issues than if I just attended a white school (or a black school for that matter) -- but it is not a good situation.
posted by miyabo at 8:22 AM on December 15, 2017 [33 favorites]


(Also, to clarify -- there were systematic barriers to prevent black students from getting into the honors classes, it wasn't entirely self-segregation. Although I'm sure there was some of that too. )
posted by miyabo at 8:28 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I had a similar experience in middle school miyabo. There were three "communities", blue, green, and rainbow. Rainbow was experimental learning/college prep for "gifted students", which really just meant the rich white kids and some of the smart poor ones. Out of 120ish kids in my class 3 of them were minorities. The school overall was 50/50 white/minority. You had to apply to get into the community and then there was a non-opaque selection process. I got in because my grandma worked a lot with the PTA.

The rainbow community got all of the resources (computers, special electronic whiteboards we used to give presentations, books, teachers) and had us writing college level research papers (as a group) in 7th/8th grade. You stayed with the same 6 teachers for 2 years and had block scheduling. We never interacted with the other communities, even our lunch time was separate.

It was better college prep for me than high school ever was, and I only got it because of nepotism and systematic racism.

(also our high school was similarly segregated like yours between honors/normal classes.)
posted by mayonnaises at 8:48 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


School districts often involve much more convoluted gerrymandering than political districts. There's no wrath worse than an angry parent when it comes to school district boundaries.

I have mixed feelings about private money raised for school districts. In a wealthy school district somewhere in Silicon Valley, I saw a sign at an elementary school showing how much money they had raised toward their goal. It was nearing $1 million dollars (this is for a handful of schools). Meanwhile, not too many miles away in a more middle-class district, they consider it a victory if they can raise $20k.

Why the mixed feelings? Because at least the wealthy are sending their kids to public schools, and they will vote in favor of any law that puts more money in the school districts. The alternative is that they send all their kids to private schools and vote against any money going to public schools.
posted by eye of newt at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2017


remember that time nominally liberal Samantha Bee and her husband Jason Jones essentially spoke out against integration by taking a 'radical middle ground' that wasn't inclusive of race politics or history?
posted by runt at 9:00 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


The alternative is that they send all their kids to private schools and vote against any money going to public schools.

Or we could ban private schools.
posted by PMdixon at 9:00 AM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


It seems to me that the high level of local control and funding is what leads to this sort of

It is this, 100%. Local control of anything that costs money is more often than not just a way to make sure white communities can give their own the best and leave minorities out in the cold. School is the most egregious example, but anything that's funded by a locally collected tax is pretty much de facto going to be better funded in wealthier (historically whiter) areas.

When white people kick up a fuss over keeping local control for school funds, it's because they are adamant that their own kid's school cannot possibly make do with only a $100M renovation instead of a $150M renovation every 10 years just so non-white kids can have frivolities like textbooks.
posted by tocts at 9:03 AM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


The alternative is that they send all their kids to private schools and vote against any money going to public schools
The East Ramapo School District in Rockland County NY has institutionalized this. What angers me is not so much the school board members voting their interests as the state government watching this and choosing not to intervene. They had the opportunity to put the district in receivership and instead chose to have an observer, so now someone is watching as those students get cheated out of an education.
posted by Octaviuz at 9:07 AM on December 15, 2017


I have mixed feelings about private money raised for school districts. In a wealthy school district somewhere in Silicon Valley, I saw a sign at an elementary school showing how much money they had raised toward their goal. It was nearing $1 million dollars (this is for a handful of schools). Meanwhile, not too many miles away in a more middle-class district, they consider it a victory if they can raise $20k.

Even where there's one district for economically diverse areas* (like DC where I work), this is a huge problem. The funding for all schools in DC should be the same, but there are schools where the PTA had raised enough money to hire staff positions, so they had a full-time science teacher when they weren't given the budget for one. For parents, it's a matter of giving the PTA $10,000 instead of paying $20,000 for private school, at least until middle or high school when a lot of them jump ship.

*Obviously, like many cities what I mean here is fabulous wealth alongside extreme poverty and very little middle class, especially not with kids.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


I've noticed a lot of white people of my acquaintance get very high-minded about this in the abstract, and then when their children hit two or three years old, they start mumbling about "good schools", and "urban schools", "public versus private", and "gangs and drugs", and whatnot. Eventually, they look for the whitest suburb that they can find (sprinking of Jews and Asians is considered a good sign) and relocate there. It's not racist, not exactly, and they'd be very upset if you implied that it was, but it may have an outcome that's not radically different from racism.

But then, the question emerges as the rubber meets the road: what do you do for your kids, when you live in a city, and you want to give them every advantage, and protect them from bad schools and bad influences? The options for the individual seem limited: go private, move to the suburbs, or go to public school and pray.
posted by theorique at 9:18 AM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Don't forget that a school can be nominally integrated, but still segregated.
Indeed. I was part of a magnet program in a public high-school. The students a whole were 80% Latin American, 10% Asian (largely south-east Asian), and around 5% white and black. But, as a working-class white kid who lucked into being good at math tests very early, the classes I took were very different in composition. Few of my classmates were rich, but even fewer of them grew up speaking Spanish at home. If it weren't for activist groups and the school music program, I'm not sure I would have met any of the non-magnet students during my entire time at school. They certainly didn't have the same opportunities that I did.

Even after decades of time spent learning that the world is full of selfish, lying assholes, I still find it inconceivable that so many self-identified ibertarians think a child's educational resources should depend on either their parent's wealth or the average income in their neighborhood. If you're going to embrace the deeply flawed idea of a meritocracy, then you could at least support policies consistent with that world view. It's hard to think of more individualist, meritocractic policy than universal, national-level school funding and the elimination of private schools. (But, I suspect, all the influential assholes whose bookshelves are filled with Ayn Rand know at a deep level that there's a very good chance both they and their children would fall onto the tracks if they allowed themselves to be judged equitably.)
posted by eotvos at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]



But then, the question emerges as the rubber meets the road: what do you do for your kids, when you live in a city, and you want to give them every advantage, and protect them from bad schools and bad influences? The options for the individual seem limited: go private, move to the suburbs, or go to public school and pray.


This is one of those cases, like gentrification, where systemic problems are turned into individualized moralizing. A single parent's decision is a drop in the ocean. If we want to fix this, we have to work at the problem at its own level. With governments and laws.

Although you said it's not racism, I think that if you started to pass laws (things like banning private schools, busing, de localisation of education funds ) you'd see how much of your acquaintances' feelings were actually dyed in the wool racism. Sooner of later you'd hear the words "I don't want my child in that school with those people".
posted by zabuni at 9:28 AM on December 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


But then, the question emerges as the rubber meets the road: what do you do for your kids, when you live in a city, and you want to give them every advantage, and protect them from bad schools and bad influences? The options for the individual seem limited: go private, move to the suburbs, or go to public school and pray.

Nikole Hannah-Jones on how she and her husband navigated a similar but not quite the same dilemma is one of best things I read all year last year.
One family, or even a few families, cannot transform a segregated school, but if none of us were willing to go into them, nothing would change. Putting our child into a segregated school would not integrate it racially, but we are middle-class and would, at least, help to integrate it economically. As a reporter, I’d witnessed how the presence of even a handful of middle-class families made it less likely that a school would be neglected. I also knew that we would be able to make up for Najya anything the school was lacking.

As I told Faraji my plan, he slowly shook his head no. He wanted to look into parochial schools, or one of the “good” public schools, or even private schools. So we argued, pleading our cases from the living room, up the steps to our office lined with books on slavery and civil rights, and back down, before we came to an impasse and retreated to our respective corners. There is nothing harder than navigating our nation’s racial legacy in this country, and the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time. Faraji couldn’t believe that I was asking him to expose our child to the type of education that the two of us had managed to avoid. He worried that we would be hurting Najya if we put her in a high-poverty, all-black school. “Are we experimenting with our child based on our idealism about public schools?” he asked. “Are we putting her at a disadvantage?”

At the heart of Faraji’s concern was a fear that grips black families like ours. We each came from working-class roots, fought our way into the middle class and had no family wealth or safety net to fall back on. Faraji believed that our gains were too tenuous to risk putting our child in anything but a top-notch school. And he was right to be worried. In 2014, the Brookings Institution found that black children are particularly vulnerable to downward mobility — nearly seven of 10 black children born into middle-income families don’t maintain that income level as adults. There was no margin for error, and we had to use our relative status to fight to give Najya every advantage. Hadn’t we worked hard, he asked, frustration building in his voice, precisely so that she would not have to go to the types of schools that trapped so many black children?
posted by AceRock at 9:32 AM on December 15, 2017 [25 favorites]


Although you said it's not racism, I think that if you started to pass laws (things like banning private schools, busing, de localisation of education funds ) you'd see how much of your acquaintances' feelings were actually dyed in the wool racism. Sooner of later you'd hear the words "I don't want my child in that school with those people".

Yeah, I think we would see a further push toward homeschooling/unschooling, and small homeschooling collectives ("small" meaning formed among relatively homogenous groups of friends and associates).
posted by theorique at 9:38 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Bussing seems to me like a horrible solution. Hours on a bus is like giving a kid an extra long commute which parents don't accept (if they have the choice) so why would a kid? Also nobody who is bussed in has any local friends, which makes it worse for them - long commute and nobody to study with.

Banning private schools is also a terrible idea. Class size, single sex, or religious education are educational choices that parents should be allowed to make -as long as they are also paying for (but choosing not to take) the public educational benefits available to them.

And at a personal level you have to define what you mean by 'bad' schools -legitimately dangerous or predatory vs. not having the 'best' (where 'best' generally equals the most white and Asian population) vs how much educating you are able to do outside of school hours. What sucks is that parents have to take the time to visit and evaluate different schools (hard) vs looking at some charts on the internet (easy).
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Class size, single sex, or religious education are educational choices that parents should be allowed to make

Why?

No really, why? The whole point of mandatory public education is not only that each child deserves an education, but that each child must get an education. We acknowledge that while parents generally want the best for their children, they aren't always equipped to make the decision of what truly is best for their child.

If a child thrives with a smaller class size, the system should provide that whether the parents can afford it or not. If a child would benefit from a single-sex education, the system should provide that. Similarly, children that would not benefit from these should not be forced into the situation, despite their parents' wishes.

Religious education is right out. Teach your children religion on your own time; education should be secular. There are plenty of religious after-school programs and weekend classes.
posted by explosion at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2017 [28 favorites]


Yeah, I think we would see a further push toward homeschooling/unschooling, and small homeschooling collectives ("small" meaning formed among relatively homogenous groups of friends and associates).

Ban those too. The only reason there's a legal framework for it is pandering to the religious right. As someone who was homeschooled for entirely secular reasons, I believe it is a bad option to make available.
posted by PMdixon at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


But then, the question emerges as the rubber meets the road: what do you do for your kids, when you live in a city, and you want to give them every advantage, and protect them from bad schools and bad influences? The options for the individual seem limited: go private, move to the suburbs, or go to public school and pray.

My wife and I recently bought a house, moving from the city to the suburbs, and we thought a lot about this. We had individual constraints: moving to where the "really good" public schools would have been hard with our budget, private school would probably be doable, but a sacrifice. (Our daughter is also 18 months so a lot of this is theoretical at this point) We also both have experience with the city schools (my wife taught there for a while and I make my living suing them*). We settled on actively looking for the schools to be "fine" but not better. The local school for us (who knows what boundaries will be when our daughter actually attends) is racially diverse (basically 1/3 white, 1/3 black, 1/3 hispanic) with lots of ELLs and is by all accounts safe and academically adequate. Even then we still moved out of the city and away from the schools my clients go to, schools that I would probably not send my daughter too.

*I represent special ed students and the worst conversation I have on a weekly basis is with a parent whose kid has been assigned to a school that is chaotic or unsafe (a typical problem is the kid who already has behavior problems getting sent to a school where mom can tell they'll only get worse). It's so hard to convey "no, no one should have to go to this school, it's an indictment of entire society that it's like that, but we can't argue that in a hearing)
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:13 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


There was a big study about segregation in Florida schools that came out a few months ago. Even though our districts aren't being carved up to be smaller -- they're all by county -- the schools are still becoming more segregated. There's other policies at play as well, such as tying additional funding to magnet schools by allotting more students from the municipalities that are providing the funding.

PDF link to the study itself.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 10:31 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed; yeah, let's not do the extreme hypothetical analogy thing, it's not gonna improve the conversation.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2017


If a child thrives with a smaller class size, the system should provide that whether the parents can afford it or not. If a child would benefit from a single-sex education, the system should provide that. Similarly, children that would not benefit from these should not be forced into the situation, despite their parents' wishes.

Shoulda woulda coulda. And I reject "children that would not benefit from these should not be forced into the situation" as the benefits may be far out into the future. And totally denying people want they want has worked so well for drugs/sex et cetera. It doesn't work. People know how to cheat the system and the costs of enforcement are too high. Regulate them but don't get rid of them.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:53 AM on December 15, 2017


homeschooling/unschooling
-----------------
The only reason there's a legal framework for it is pandering to the religious right. As someone who was homeschooled for entirely secular reasons, I believe it is a bad option to make available.



The only two mothers I know that are "unschooling" are mothers of autistic children that have found that school resources available to them have both other children bullying their children and adults and pedagogy techniques that equate to bullying by adults.

The person that created this website is a mother that is "unschooling" after trying with the school district for several years after discovering how her children was treated by both adults and children. Her child is multiracial, but mostly presents as black. She found both racism and ableism. I think mothers like her need to have this option until both funding and curriculum/pedagogy techniques are changed. As a girl that was constantly bullied for not presenting as neurotypical at public school for 12 years of schooling, I don't want people like me and Mustafa [the child from the above link] to be forced to endure what we endured/endure. Most US schools are way behind the times for how we fund and use our schools.


How to change schools so there is much better racial integration I'm not sure, but why throw people like me and Mustafa under the bus while we wait for reform? I want integration and better curriculum/pedagogy techniques so non-neurotypicals will be welcomed and fully accepted, but parents are still fighting over how to teach autistic kids --parents have a stranglehold on schools in too many areas; I don't what quack pedagogy and quack "therapy" from parents that have been flimflammed to be forced on children that are vulnerable yet do not have parents that are able to speak up enough to prevent such disastrous techniques being used on their children.

I hope that after the boomers die off schools can be reformed and fully funded, in the meantime we need options as we try to compensate for the worst of the effects the boomers and X-er's influence. Maybe school district by schools district kids like me and Mustafa can be properly cared for, but the federal government needs to fix things before the rest of the nation's children can be taught. Right?

I recommend checking out the above blog for more ideas and viewpoints from parents with disabled children.
posted by RuvaBlue at 12:35 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Nikole Hannah-Jones' written work is amazing - but she might be an even better speaker. I've caught her at Another Round with Heben & Tracy, Longform, and This American Life.

I had a similar experince to mayonnaises and miyabo. I've had almost the exact conversation AceRock quotes between Hannah-Jones and her husband.

I thought I might want to be an engineer in high school, and my time there corresponded exactly to the swtich from drafting with pencil and paper to AutoCAD. Which meant I was the one honors kid that was hanging around in the shop classes. Our drafting teacher held, for years, a permanent illegal candy sale that funded the purchase of computers and software that got these kids a jumpstart into AutoCAD jobs right out of high school. Our principal once came down and asked him point blank how he was funding all this and he literally said to him, during class, "Larry, you don't want to know."

I mention my drafting teacher because the whole thing was really pretty formative for me. I've found that apart from truly awful people who seem to want to dedicate real effort towards making other people's lives worse, I've found that most people will actively dedicate effort to themselves and their family, and they can sometimes be bothered to help out others. The trick is playing in that margin. The sometimes.

People simply will not make choices that actively hurt themselves or their family. Given that, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about what can we do to nudge those same people to make choices that result in things being a tiny bit better for others outside of their immediete concerns. It's hard.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


Or we could ban private schools.

Supreme Court:

The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.
posted by jpe at 1:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Great way to start an interview, Jeff.

To his credit he included this exchange instead of excluding and writing some weasel words like 'this interview has been edited for clarity'.
posted by el io at 2:47 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's remarkable that the Atlantic included passages that make its editor-in-chief read like the world's big dipshit throughout, such as the following:
Goldberg: I’m not arguing for applauding. Obviously there is a long road to go. I’m just saying that there is a direction to things.

Hannah-Jones: Well, there’s forward progress and then we move back. We’re clearly right now moving back. So yes, we get the Voting Rights Act and now we get the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. We see a wave of voter suppression. We get Brown v. Board of Education and now black children are more segregated than they’ve been since the 1970s. We never made any real progress on housing segregation outside of the South and the West even though we outlawed housing discrimination in 1968. The wealth gap for black and white Americans is the largest that it’s been since we started really recording this in the 1970s. There are more black men incarcerated than were black men enslaved during slavery. There are more black men killed by police than there were black men lynched in a year.

Goldberg: Okay fine. You win.

Hannah-Jones: For small numbers of us, there’s a lot of progress. And for large numbers of us, I think the progress can be very hard. It’s still really bad.

Goldberg: I’m not disagreeing with your analysis on any of those. It just seemed two years ago that we were moving in the right direction.

Hannah-Jones: And then what happened?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Or we could ban private schools.

Oh, I don't know. After working with senior high school students, maybe by then we should let some of those little bullies and witches attend their own ASH. Just as long as the motto over the door of Asshole Senior High is written in stone: "We reflect the values instilled by our parents."

You know, just so everybody is clear on where it comes from.

Although, sometimes the apple that falls far from the good tree is a rotten one. Young adults can choose to make choices too.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:36 PM on December 15, 2017




remember that time nominally liberal Samantha Bee and her husband Jason Jones essentially spoke out against integration by taking a 'radical middle ground' that wasn't inclusive of race politics or history?
posted by runt at 9:00 AM on December 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


runt, is that what the linked article says? It has a short quote from Jason, but Samantha doesn't appear.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2017


Supreme Court:

The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.


Yes because as we all know, SCOTUS decisions are un-overturnable.

Do they explicitly teach the is-ought fallacy in law school or is it something y'all just internalize? Not important, just curious.
posted by PMdixon at 5:34 PM on December 15, 2017


Well we could always just not make private schools legally eligible for 501(c)3 status, that would solve the problem instantly. Of course our current government is giving them more tax deductions, not fewer.
posted by miyabo at 7:23 PM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Zoning's also part of the problem. If the only way to move into your neighborhood school's district is to buy a single-family home on X square feet in a desirable neighborhood--don't be surprised if the school population isn't vary diverse.

Especially if you live in a "nice" neighborhood in a city, please also look around you and figure out what's happening to housing prices, and what kind of changes would be necessary to keep housing affordable to a broad range of residents.

There are lots of well-meaning neighbors that will always come out of the woodwork on any attempt to upzone or build new housing. We need a few who will are willing to turn out to say "how can we keep our neighborhood affordable"?
posted by floppyroofing at 6:30 AM on December 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think we would see a further push toward homeschooling/unschooling, and small homeschooling collectives ("small" meaning formed among relatively homogenous groups of friends and associates).

Ban those too. The only reason there's a legal framework for it is pandering to the religious right. As someone who was homeschooled for entirely secular reasons, I believe it is a bad option to make available.


That sounds like a frightening idea, and it's probably unconstitutional as well. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience in homeschooling, but there are lots of reasons for homeschooling that don't involve the religious right. (And even "religious right" parents have the right to oversee the education of their children.) Mandatory government schooling regards children as the property of the state; we need to ensure that diverse alternatives remain available so that families and children have access to the educational options that work for them.
posted by theorique at 1:11 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


The vast majority of poor non-white kids in this country have the "option" of the intentionally underfunded segregated public school in their town/neighborhood and, if their parents can find a way to get them there, one or more charter schools, which may also be segregated, may not serve free lunch, may not have special ed, etc.

Somehow y'all have managed to turn a thread about the crime committed against non-white children in this country by the intentional resegregation of our public schools into a discussion of the apparent constitutional right to private schools and homeschooling for white kids. This is exactly like what happens when men show up in a thread about sexual harassment of women and manage to make it all about their manfeelings.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:03 PM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


Mandatory government schooling regards children as the property of the state

allowing home/private schooling leaves children as the property of their parents, and refuses them the right of citizens to have a certified education.
posted by jb at 6:02 AM on December 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


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