Is School Integration Necessary?
Integration is expensive and takes money away from other necessary improvements.
I recently moderated a panel during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia sponsored by Democrats for Education Reform, featuring a civil rights attorney, an advocate for criminal justice reform, a Colorado state legislator and a charter school leader.
The topic was education "intersectionality" – which is essentially how issues outside the classroom affect performance inside the classroom. During the discussion, a member of the audience raised the issue of segregation and I said something that has gotten some attention on social media:
"Maybe the fight's not worth it. It's a good thing; we all think integration is good. But it's been a long fight, we've had middling success. At the same time, we have lots and lots of schools filled with kids of one race, one background, that are doing great. It's a good question."
The context for my comment was how politics, demographics and racism impede integration. America tried to integrate schools back in the 1960's and 1970's, but many white families fled cities for mostly white suburbs. Some cities, like Boston, tried busing but the negative reaction from parents was swift and severe. Few places do it today.
Some cities created magnet schools that students test into, with the explicit goal of creating a handful of racially diverse schools. Today in Chicago, magnet schools have managed to keep the white public school population at about nine percent in a city that is more than one third white. And many have pointed out the downside of magnet schools – intellectual segregation – because they pull stronger students out of neighborhood schools.
Housing patterns that drive school attendance boundaries in cities all across America are also segregated by both race and income. In most communities, efforts to integrate schools have largely been abandoned.
Also, for the first time in history, more than half of America's public school students are non-white and for the first time in history, more than half of America's public school children are also poor or near-poor. So, in a school system that is blacker, browner andSegregated Schools May Not Be That Bad | US News Opinion: