Still Separate is Still Unequal

April 1, 2011 at 9:47 am 1 comment

Interesting set of articles showing that our schools are still unequal because they are separate (race isn’t the major issue in the social issue being described — socioeconomic status is), and that integration can improve the success of the poor.  The suburban parents don’t like busing, but maybe they can be enticed (with magnet schools, with charter schools on their side of the urban/suburban border).

This feels like an instance of a general problem — getting the more-affluent to buy-in in order to improve the conditions for the less-affluent.  When I was an Education graduate student, we were told that social advances in education came from a “Robin Hood” strategy: steal from the rich to give to the poor, but make the rich want it.  For example, we were taught that compulsory schooling got enforced (laws were on the books earlier, but were previously ignored) in the United States because poor kids couldn’t pass the literacy test to get into the Army draft, and the rich parents didn’t want only their kids going to war. Could we use this strategy to gain more resources for improving computing education for lower socioeconomic status schools, and address the Stuck in the Shallow End issues?

More than a half-century after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling, we are still trying as a country to validate and justify the discredited concept of separate but equal schools — the very idea supposedly overturned by Brown v. Board when it declared, “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality.

“Ninety-five percent of education reform is about trying to make separate schools for rich and poor work, but there is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who specializes in education issues.

via Separate and Unequal –

This idea borrows heavily from the older magnet school movement, which sought integration by locating high-achieving themed high schools in inner-city neighborhoods. What’s different about RIMA is that in order to make the charter school even more attractive to suburban parents, it is located on the suburban side of city lines.

The result is RIMA’s first school, Blackstone Valley Prep, one of the most diverse schools of any kind I have ever visited. BVP currently draws 252 kindergartners, first-graders, and fifth-graders from two low-income cities, Pawtucket and Central Falls, and two affluent towns, Lincoln and Cumberland. Fifty-five percent of the students are black and Latino, 65 percent are poor, and 43 percent are English language learners.

via On Charter Schools and Integration: A Case Study.

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When test scores seem too good to believe – Incentives Offered to Raise College Graduation Rates –

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