SD News Roundup: Integration & Immigration, Curriculum Resources, and resegregation in Iowa

There wasn’t an easy way to group all the stories in this roundup, so I have them in three mostly separate categories: white families and school integration, teacher and curriculum diversity, and well, Iowa. As always, I hope you find something useful.

White families and school integration:

In case you missed it, City Lab has a great Interview with Courtney Everts Mykytyn, the founder of IntegratedSchools.org (@integratedschls) an organization (and friend to the SD Notebook) that encourages parents to opt-in to integrated/diverse public schools. It’s a short article, and I definitely encourage a full-read. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the interview:

  • “But parents often tell me they look back on the choice to integrate and say that it felt way harder than it needed to. And for these parents, the research shows that their children will more than likely be just fine. The biggest influence on children is parents, and white kids from middle-class families aren’t going to be less privileged as adults because they went to an integrating school.”

There was a related piece in Teen Vogue (which has unexpectedly good coverage of school segregation) that connects segregation to the current immigration debate. The writer – Lincoln Anthony Blades – notes an important contradiction of many white liberals: that they “support” immigration while practicing self-segregation. Here’s a few key parts of the argument:

  • “For immigrant families of color — like my own — who are targeted either because of their race or their religion, immigration and integration go hand-in-hand. In this new land, all we’ve asked for is the opportunity to improve our own station in life.”
  • “To embrace immigration is to drop prejudices, such as assuming that minorities bring crime. To not only embrace the positives of cultural exchange but to put yourself in proximity to people different than yourself. If white people continue to adopt a self-segregationist mentality and behavior, nonwhite immigrants will always be vulnerable and unprotected, and our diversity will be only ideologically aspirational instead of realistically practical.”

(As a reminder, about 690,000 DACA recipients will face deportation if congress continues to do nothing to help them stay here.)

Teacher diversity and anti-racist pedagogy:

The quote above, about dropping prejudices, is a good transition to the next topic. As reported by Melinda D. Anderson in the Atlantic, new research is starting to give us a clearer sense of racial discrimination in school hiring practices. Anderson’s article discusses hiring practices at two districts – one with with a court order to increase teacher diversity and one that has chosen to do so voluntarily.

Research has found many benefits of teacher diversity, including that non-white teachers are often “more culturally sensitive and less likely to subscribe to biased stereotypes about their students.” Along these lines, I’ve recently come across several resources for culturally-relevant and anti-racist pedagogy:

This seems like a good place to work in an update about the Metco program, a voluntary interdistrict integration program based near me in Boston. Each year, about 3,200 black and latinx students are bused daily to 190 different schools in the Boston and Springfield area. After 43 years, the organization has a new Executive Director, who takes the reins at a time when Metco students continue to face overt racial discrimination in the majority-white schools that they attend through the program. As part of an effort in expanding the program, the new ED, notes that “Metco will join any ongoing conversations in the districts on implementing a more racially sensitive curriculum or adding more teachers of color to their staffs.” I will follow any updates.

Iowa:

And, we end in Iowa. As reported in the Des Moines Register, a new bill could accelerate resegregation across the state. Here’s a very quick overview:

  • Iowa has an open enrollment law that allows student transfers across district lines, but the current law has important restrictions that are intended to increase school diversity.
  • The law previously restricted transfers based on race, but districts had to change their diversity plans after the 2007 Parents Involved case, which prohibited integration based exclusively on student race.  
  • In response, many Iowa districts “replaced race with family income, allowing districts reject transfer requests if a student’s family earns enough money that the student does not qualify for free or reduced lunches.”
  • So, the way it’s currently set up, the law aims to provide opportunities for low-income and/or minority students to attend schools in neighboring (majority white) districts. And, the income limits block affluent white families from transferring out of the city.
  • The new bill (Senate File 270) would pave the way for white students to leave by waiving these income limits. Another pending bill (House File 2087) would even pay for their transportation. The likely net effect- majority-white schools in the suburbs get whiter and schools in the city become more intensely segregated.

Oh, and the main lobbyist for the bill is Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers’ group. This is obviously troubling, and I will continue to keep track of it.

And, as you may know, Iowa is the home state of Nikole Hannah-Jones. Last week, Iowa Public Radio did a short (30 min) interview with her, where she talks about her experience in the very same open enrollment program that could be reshaped by the bills above.

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