News Roundup- Early July: Integration resources, new research and local stories

Cross-posted at Integratedschools.org

This roundup starts with new articles and resources for school integration. Then, local stories include everything from the Alabama achievement gap to a sort of present day McCarthyism. Hope you find something useful/interesting.

Strategies for School Integration:

  • UCLA magnet school manual – Earlier this month, the fantastic UCLA Civil Rights Project released a district manual for developing high-quality magnet schools. In addition to providing a background about the history of magnet schools, the manual uses research evidence to outline:
    • the overall benefits of intentionally diverse magnets
    • “first door” strategies – i.e., ways to attract a diverse student body – such as attractive themes and effective outreach methods
    • “second door” strategies – i.e., ways to facilitate positive relationships and experiences once students are enrolled – such as developing teacher buy-in and creating a sense of community, and
    • strategies for sustaining diverse magnet schools over time

There are examples from effective magnets throughout and an especially useful section at the end on the all-important question of how to build political will for diverse magnet schools, which draws heavily from work in Montclair, NJ, Louisville, KY, and Cambridge, MA. While it is directed at magnet school leaders, it’s really useful for anyone with an interest in school integration. Towards the end, there are links to tons of useful resources, organizations and articles. I highly recommend.

  • Voluntary Interdistrict Choice CorporationThis podcast (episode 7) from the Great Lakes Equity Center looks at “the history, progress, and future of the VICC desegregation efforts in the St. Louis metropolitan area.”
  • Parents Opting In – The Center for American Progress recently conducted focus groups with “socioeconomically diverse parents” regarding their beliefs about school integration. They found that parents value “integration approaches that ‘happened naturally’ by incentivizing families to enroll in diverse schools or move to diverse neighborhoods.” Parents want to be included “in the planning, implementation, and evaluation stages of school integration plans.” Of course I’m going to plug the work of Integrated Schools here, partner to the SD Notebook, who does so much great work on encouraging parents to opt in to integrated schools.
  • Making Caring Common – An initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education calls on colleges to consider “authentic demonstrations of empathy” and “commitment to the common good” as part of the student application process. So, something like caring for a younger sibling could have significant weight in a college application. Over 175 colleges and universities have indicated their support for this kind of approach. This PBS Newshour article has a useful summary and links. And, its main argument is interesting – it basically says exam schools at the high school level should use something similar. There’s really troubling data in here regarding segregation at exam schools. One quick example – At Stuyvesant HS in NYC, Black and Latinx students make up only 10% of enrollment even though they account for 70% of the overall district population.
    • Along these lines, a recent report breaks down enrollment data at Boston’s 3 exam schools finding similar results. Specifically: “no exam school enrolls Latino students, and only one exam school enrolls Black students, at a rate proportionate to the district.”

Benefits of School Integration:

Not much new on the research front, but I thought this was interesting –

  • Also from the UCLA Civil Rights Project, new research found that middle school students “feel safer, less lonely and less bullied if they attend schools that are more diverse.” There was also evidence of “more tolerance and less prejudice toward students of other ethnicities.” The study was based on surveys of over 4,300 6th grade students in 26 California middle schools. As with much of the research on school integration, it found that benefits extended to students of all races. Here’s a short summary and a link to the full report. Some might be concerned that mixing students of different races would lead to fights, but this is strong evidence of exactly the opposite.

State/Local Level Stories:

  • Alabama – This is the first in a series from AL.com called Tackling the Gap, which looks at the racial achievement gap in Alabama, currently “between 20 and 30 percentage points in any given subject area.” It has a useful infographic about the Black-White gap in the state, it points out that the racial achievement gap is separate from the gap related to student family income, and it reviews research that analyzed over 200 million test scores (!) to identify the causes of the racial achievement gap.
  • Houston – Here’s another story illustrating the complicated interconnections between housing segregation and school segregation. In a majority White neighborhood of Houston, residents have opposed construction of an affordable housing development. From the NYTimes article: “one Galleria resident warned that the development would introduce an “unwelcome resident who, due to poverty and lack of education, will bring the threat of crime, drugs and prostitution to the neighborhood.” Ugh. Elected officials unfortunately sided with the opposition to the development, but there’s sort of a problem in that the Fair Housing Act requires cities to “affirmatively” advance racial integration. In the waning days of the Obama administration, HUD sent a letter to Houston charging that opposition to the new development was motivated by race and threatening to take the city to court if it indeed canceled the development. Now everything is different under HUD secretary Ben Carson, an early critic of the Obama administration’s enforcement of the FHA.
  • Brooklyn – This story struck me because of how bizarre it is and because of it’s powerful use of student voice. The principal at Park Slope Collegiate in Brooklyn is apparently being investigated by the DOE on charges of “communist organizing.” Yeah – that’s real and happening now. The principal, Jill Bloomberg, also happens to be a vocal critic of inequity in NYC schools. Here’s another great summary from Chalkbeat, where Bloomberg says “the speech I’m most known for is anti-racism.” Great quote. For one thing, this story is further evidence of the completely backwards approach to civil rights investigations at the DOE. There’s so much to talk about in a story like this that the effect on students may get overlooked, but Jallicia Jolly’s (@jallicia) piece in the Huffington Post does a great job of bringing this up front. Lots of great student quotes in the full article, but I’ll end with the ones that struck me the most:  
    • “White kids get the funding and we don’t. The moment you walk in, you are told you are a threat. You are harassed. Your school is underfunded. Of course, this is the consequence of attending a school that is predominately made up of minorities.”
    • “Our school, teachers, and principals are being attacked for fighting against racism and trying to integrate out school. Instead of trying to shut us up, how about you listen to what we have to say and create changes.”

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