This week’s news roundup features an opinion piece from the New York Times and a new report from the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity (IMO) at the University of Minnesota. IMO was founded by Myron Orfield, an influential social demographic researcher and brother of Gary Orfield, himself an influential school desegregation researcher who leads the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. They (IMO) also just recently started a blog – you can check it out here:
Simply called “Integration Works. Can it Survive the Trump Era?”, the NYT article aims to address a fundamental overarching question of this blog. It’s core argument is that housing integration is our best hope for improved educational and social outcomes and that any such efforts are extremely unlikely for at least the next four years. The strength of the article is its summaries of recent research on integration. I’ve reproduced the most interesting findings here along with links to the original sources:
- Rucker C. Johnson, who followed black families for two generations finding improvements in educational levels and overall quality of life due to integration:
- “We have a very rare opportunity where a major intervention has been shown to be very effective on one generation’s lifetime outcomes, and then to be able to show that those beneficial effects extend into the next generation – particularly the black children whose parents went to desegregated schools.”
- A related 2012 study found that students in integrated schools had “increased math and reading test scores, reduced likelihood of grade repetition, increased likelihood of high school graduation and college attendance, improvements in college quality/selectivity, and increased racial diversity of student body at their selected college.”
- Persistence of the Achievement Gap
- Released this week, a Brookings Institution report on the SAT Achievement Gap found that: “in the entire country last year at most 2,200 black and 4,900 Latino test-takers scored above a 700. In comparison, roughly 48,000 whites and 52,800 Asians scored that high.”
- Last month, a review of nearly 200 million standardized exams of elementary and middle school students between 2009-2013 found that “the strongest correlates of achievement gaps are local racial/ethnic differences in parental income, local average parental education levels, and patterns of racial/ethnic segregation.”
- Potential solutions: School Funding and Housing Integration
- Yet another great study from Rucker C. Johnson found that: “a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.27 more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages, and a 3.67 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families.”
- A 2006 study from economists at UC Berkeley found that, even holding factors like family income constant, “a shift from a fully segregated to a completely integrated city closes about one-quarter of the raw black-white gap in SAT scores.”
- Meanwhile, another study recommends “place-based approaches to improving economic mobility, such as making investments to improve opportunity in areas that currently have low levels of mobility or helping families move to higher opportunity areas using targeted housing vouchers.”
In future blog posts, I hope to more deeply explore the relationship between housing segregation and school segregation. Likely a useful resource will be the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity website, which recently posted maps of racial transition in Chicago and Minneapolis since 1990. In a report released this week, they found that charter expansion increases segregation without consistently improving student outcomes. Here are some highlights, as pulled from coverage in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press and the University of Minnesota website.
- Of the 50 most racially concentrated schools in the Twin Cities, 45 are charters.
- A sub-set of segregated schools – called “poverty academies” – “have been intentionally created by charter school [proponents] as an alternative to racial and economic integration.” Consistent with the larger research on school segregation, these schools have not improved student outcomes.
- As summarized in the UMN article: “the report suggests that moderate or even nominal attempts to reduce school segregation would produce academic gains comparable to—or greater than—those observed in the most highly lauded class of charter schools.”
Of course, the major news events of this week were the nearly inexplicable confirmations of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. These are too big for the news roundup, but will be certainly be explored in upcoming posts. In the meantime, it may give you hope to know that, later this month, these middle school students will put on a play about Thurgood Marshall’s role in Brown.