Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Make Segregation Equal?

I understand it. Neighborhood schools have a lot to recommend them. You can walk to school; there's a sense of community; your children and their friends live close to each other. Desegregation may mean traveling an inconvenient distance to school, and it may mean social isolation for children after school, and it brings a host of other problems. But, still.

Schools with a majority nonwhite student population are going to have less money, because these are schools on the wrong side of the street from the gated communities and gently rolling green hills and high property values. These schools usually will not be staffed by the most experienced administrators and teachers. They may not have all the supplies they need, nor enough books, nor computers. The way schools are funded makes sure of this, in this land of I Got Mine and You Can't Have Any (so short-sighted).

Yes, all schools should teach the same material, be equally rigorous, provide the same supplies, offer the same opportunities. They should.

But even if they did, even if schools truly were separate but equal, that would still be a terrible world in which to live. Wouldn't it mean that we gave up?

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