Thursday, October 11, 2007

Education Requires Integration

Or at least it should.

School integration is good for everybody:

Wells’s [Amy Stuart Wells, of Columbia University's Teachers College --ed.] brief primarily focuses on the long-term benefits of school integration. She cites social science data that shows integrated schools have a strong, positive effect on students’ racial attitudes and ability to interact with others in multiracial settings. The data show that minority students receive long-term benefits from integrated schools: they tend to move into more racially integrated settings in their lives and careers; they experience greater social mobility; they have higher occupational aspirations; and they develop intergroup skills that benefit both the graduates and their employers.

At the same time, research shows that white students who attend racially integrated schools have fewer racial stereotypes and prejudices, even controlling for other relevant social factors. Not only do integrated schools help the life chances of minority students, they also lessen the discrimination they face in society. Furthermore, Wells presents research showing that schools are often the only place that children are exposed to the multicultural experiences that lead to these benefits.

But there is so much opposition:

MILTON, Mass. -- Last spring, town officials in this affluent Boston suburb changed the elementary-school assignments for 38 streets -- and sparked outrage. Some white families had been reassigned to Tucker, a mostly black school which has historically had Milton's lowest test scores.

Among those reassigned is Kevin Keating, a white parent who is talking to lawyers about going to court to reverse the plan. I "just don't feel good putting [my son] in an inferior school," he says. His ammunition: the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that consideration of race in school assignments is unconstitutional.
Some work for integration in an attempt to reduce the racial achievement gap in test scores:
Although the push to integrate public schools is often associated with the civil-rights movement, these days many school administrators want to integrate schools for a more practical reason: to raise test scores. Studies show black and other minority students tend to perform better academically when they learn alongside white classmates. Districts face the threat of losing government funds if school test scores fail to meet a certain threshold.
Even though closing the achievement gap is ostensibly a significant goal of the No Test Publisher Child Left Behind legislation, really, are we surprised that to learn that
the Bush administration and various organizations have filed briefs opposing the integration policies.
The real issue is that school segregation is a basic human rights violation:
[According to a UN Human Rights Commission report] the state of segregation in U.S. schools may violate an international human rights treaty to which the United States is a signatory.

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