"One of the most powerful tools for improving the educational achievement of poor black and Hispanic public school students is, regrettably, seldom even considered." (Herbert 1). Each one of these readings and podcasts talk about the importance of integration in closing the gap between middle-class, white students and low-income and poverty stricken black and Hispanic students. Each has a different story and view.
Episode 562: The Problem We All Live With
In the first episode of The Problem We All Live With, the focus is on integration by accident. Michael Brown, a black man shot by a cop in Ferguson, MO brought about huge controversy around the country. One thing that stuck out was how, after his death, his mother mentioned how difficult it was to get him to graduate because not many black boys do.
Normandy High School, where Brown graduated from, is almost 100% black. Based on scores from the state and Board of Education, the students were underperforming in every subject and Normandy was placed on probation.....for 15 years. In January 2013, Normandy lost its accreditation and the Transfer Law was enacted. This law allowed any student from Normandy to transfer to another school district for free. To try and suede the students from leaving, the bussing school of choice for the Normandy School District was Francis Howell which was 30 miles away and 85% white. 1,000 students; 1/4 of the population, left Normandy for Francis Howell. Francis Howell became integrated by accident because of the loss of accreditation of Normandy.
Episode 563: The Problem We All Live With Part II
In Part II, the focus is on integration as a choice. Connecticut is home to many wealthy and middle-class suburban areas because of its close proximity to New York and Manhattan. However, Hartford, CT is a normal urban area with a high population of low-income, poverty stricken black, Hispanic and Asian people. The public school system was underfunded and caused many issues. John Britain decided to sue the State of Connecticut because of these conditions. He was able to gather staff from the Hartford schools and even the Board of Education to testify. This brought about the awareness of collapsing roofs, large class sizes, flooding and worst of all pigeon carcasses falling into classrooms. John Britain won in an appeal but it took many years after before the state would settle.
One of John Britain's law students, Edin Ray, took on his belief of integration as a choice and started promoting the magnet schools in Hartford to middle-class, suburban white families. She used marketing techniques often used by large companies such as Apple and Pepsi to create an idea that your child could pick a school that offered them something they are actually interested in rather than attending the same, boring curriculums in normal public schools. The classes were diverse as some students came from Hartford itself, but this gave families the choice to integrate their children into city schools with a diverse population.
Separate and Unequal by: Bob Herbert
"Long years of evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent -- that is, middle class-- peers." (Herbert 1). With years of evidence, you would think integration would be more highly considered. Even though schools are no longer legally segregated, they are segregated based on residential patterns, housing discrimination and economic disparities. All of the poor are living with the poor and the rich as living with the rich. There is such a large economic gap in the country that it is near impossible for someone from a low-income family to attend a public school or private school in a middle-class or upper-class area. This relates back to Kristoff and how children's future economic statuses will be based on their parents' economic status. The middle to upper-class are providing more opportunities for their kids when it comes to education that low-income families and communities cannot provide. This creates Herbert's argument of separate and unequal.
Separate is Not Equal: Brown vs. Board of Education
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education law. Today, in 2015, our schools are still segregated. It may not be by law but it is by economic status. Those who are underprivileged remain underprivileged while those who are privileged remain privileged. Separate is not Equal.
With accidental, choice and forced integration being successful, you would think it would be used and enforced in the school systems. With our country becoming more and more diverse, diversity in schools should be considered an advantage for the future. To learn and understand the differences so we can live with them as they become more and more prominent. Integration may be the solution, but no one wants to talk about it.