I had the chance to attend a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago to hear about the Century Foundation’s research report on Taking Action on School Diversity. Secretary John King was also in attendance, as this is a key focus of his work in the Department of Education.
The foundation and research were new to me, so I wanted to share with my Tch community.
Students in racially and socioeconomically integrated schools experience academic, cognitive, and social benefits that are not available to students in racially isolated, high-poverty environments. A large body of research going back five decades underscores the improved experiences that integrated schools provide. And yet, more than sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, American public schools are still highly segregated by both race and class. In fact, by most measures of integration, our public schools are worse off, since they are now even more racially segregated than they were in the 1970s, and economic segregation in schools has risen dramatically over the past two decades.
This article highlights in particular the large body of research that demonstrates the important educational benefits — cognitive, social, and emotional — for all students who interact with classmates from different backgrounds, cultures, and orientations to the world. This research legitimizes the intuition of millions of Americans who recognize that as the nation becomes more racially and ethnically complex, our schools should reflect that diversity and tap into the benefits of these more diverse schools to better educate all our students for the 21st century.
The U.S. Education Secretary John King is frustrated by what he describes as the “ahistorical nature” of conversations today about how to integrate schools. Speaking at a Century Foundation panel on Tuesday to highlight two recent reports, King said that the need for “urgency” when it comes to making classrooms more socioeconomically and racially diverse is sometimes thwarted by communities who see the current lack of real integration as a fact over which they have no control. That, he argued, is simply not true.
I also ran across this tool from the NYTimes: “Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares.” I hope all this research helps to inform your local conversations.
Catherine White Guimaraes is an Engagement Manager at Teaching Channel. Prior to her work with Tch, she led a team in designing online learning courses, served as an assistant principal at a middle school, led educators across New York City in the transition to the Common Core, and taught in middle schools in Boston and Washington, D.C. You can connect with Catherine on LinkedIn.