Merge Integration With Accountability -- Or Let It Go

Kudos to Emily Bazelon for her Sunday NYT magazine piece The Next Kind of Integration,

which gives a clear update on the recent changes in the law and how

districts are responding. (As an editor at Slate, Bazelon is also kind

enough to look at and occasionally greenlight my story ideas.)

That being said, I don't think that the strategies outlined in the piece stand much chance of working.


essence, Bazelon seems to be suggesting that, as in Louisville,

carefully-created systems that use economic class as well as race can

meet the law's requirements and, by grandfathering in some students,

remain practically and politically viable.

While I have no real objection, I think it's extremely optimistic to

think that this could happen on a national scale. Racial or economic

integration is no longer really an option for many urban districts

without a radical shift to larger (city-suburban) districts or the

massive return of white families to city schools. Neither of those

things seems to be on the horizon. Ditto for any type of

pro-integration mandate from the courts.

Even in places where it might still be numerically possible, I'd

remind us all that if we've learned anything from NCLB at all it's that

"receiving" schools don't like to take in new kids -- especially if

they're minority, low-income, low-achieving, or all of the above. This

we already know.

To make academic or class-based integration viable, lawmakers would

need to create a special provision or reward for schools that increase

their proportion of low-income or minority kids -- protecting them from

getting slapped down by short term performance but still holding them

accountable after the first year. Without something along those lines,

it feels to me that talking about integration is increasingly nostalgic

and quite possibly a waste of time.

Cross-posted from TWIE

Filed under: The World Outside CPS

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