Takeaways from KCUR Integration Discussion Sept 20, 2018

I was grateful to be included in a local conversation about integration in schools this fall with KCUR’s Central Standard. The resulting dialogue was thoughtful and candid. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing, and below are a few of the takeaways that stuck with me the most.

Listen: KCUR Central Standard: Integration of Schools

Susan Wilson, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion UMKC:

“I think it’s always been the case that parents want the best education for their children. I think what’s changed now is there’s more options…
I think public education for a variety of reasons including integration, the face of it has changed in terms of who goes to public schools now because not only did you have white flight when integration happened, but you had black flight. You had black people moving to the suburbs to pursue what they thought was a better education for their children.”

“…the other thing that shapes implicit bias are your experiences….If you have no experience with people who are different, we know that bias causes us to like and gravitate toward people who are like us and to see people who are different than us in a more negative light.”

“We know that groups make better decisions when there are diverse voices, even though the deliberations may take a little longer with a diverse group. But the decision and the work product is much better because you don’t have group think.”

Ellie Moxley, KCUR Education reporter, on commodifying students of color:

“I think that we need to make sure that when we’re having these conversations, we’re talking about what’s best for all students, we’re talking about what’s best for kids. And I think that diversity can be a really good goal, but … it makes me uncomfortable when it is talked about [in terms of] the benefits for white students. Because I think really especially in this conversation and given the legacy of Brown v. Board and the legacy of segregation, we really need to be talking about what’s good for students of color and what’s good for … education.”

Gabriel Munoz, KC parent, reflecting on his experience as a Latino student in predominantly white schools:

“It was kind of hard to really express myself or who I am …. because you really felt like you needed to be like everybody else, because everybody else was the same. … And you kind of assimilate….”

Caller Aaron:

“The more money that people are paying into the system, the better the schools are going to be.”

Dr. Susan Eaton, Professor of Practice in Social Policy at Brandeis University and author of 3 books on diversity in education:

“One of the things that we still know is true, and one of the things that keeps me interested and concerned about the topic and being an advocate for creating and sustaining integrated schools (that are actually equitable schools, and the types of schools where African American kids and other kids of color aren’t forced to give up their identifies and assimilate in ways that they were in the past) is the fact that because of the link between race and poverty … and because of the history of racial discrimination in our country, there is a huge link between race and poverty. And there is a legacy of housing segregation and school segregation in our country that has been maintained by government action and by private actors that have been subsidized by government.”

“Right now we have a situation where millions and millions of children of color, the vast majority of them from poor families, forced to attend high poverty schools. Not all high poverty schools are bad…and it has nothing to do with the fact that they are “all black” schools. That’s not the issue, but what we do know from over a half century of research, is that high poverty schools tend to carry far, far more challenges than schools that are more socioeconomically diverse.”

Dr. Eaton on outcomes:

“What we know from a half century of research, is that in terms of achievement, that all students tend to do much better, as measured by test scores, in schools that are racially and socioeconomically diverse.”
“Achievement gaps are actually much smaller in these schools, and that’s because of the higher relative scores of black and Latino students, not because white students’ scores happen to be lower in these schools. And also things like 21st century skills….Cooperation, empathy, working with others, upstanding an issue or a problem from another person’s perspective, complex problem solving….”

On how to do integration right:

“…the modern movements now for school integration, supported by groups like the National Coalition on School Diversity, for example, understand that diversity does not equal inclusion and diversity doesn’t equal equity. That it’s as important to make sure that what happens in those schools doesn’t force children of color to have … unequal access to curriculum, unequal access to opportunities, and also doesn’t force them to assimilate to these white norms which are oftentimes invisible in these predominantly white environments. Really good integration efforts really challenge the status quo in that way and offer opportunities across the board equally to everybody.”

Lisa Gooden, KCPS District Advisory Committee Board, on getting past your bias:

“I would encourage families to tour multiple schools and make sure you are touring schools that have a demographic that is different than your own, to really get a feel for what that school is like. Because … looking at the test scores alone or the racial or socioeconomic makeup of the school alone is not indicative of the quality of that school.”

For more, consider following:
National Coalition on School Diversity
NCSD on Facebook

Integrated Schools
Integrated Schools on Facebook

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