Don’t look now but segregation has made a roaring comeback. Today, US schools seem to be as segregated as they were during the 50’s and 60’s. The average Latino student attends a school that’s nearly 57 percent Latino and the average White student attends schools that are nearly 73 percent White (Childress, 2014). In 2011, the percentage of black students in majority white schools was 23.2%—slightly less than it was in 1968 (Childress, 2014). Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of districts ordered by the courts to desegregate are no longer required to do so (Childress, 2014)
This type of regression leads one to ask himself/herself were the landmark cases like Brown vs. Board of Education all in vain? Do people naturally segregate themselves? Is it just better that schools remain segregated?
Or more importantly, does integration in school matter?
Many have sought out the answer to that question. There seems to be more evidence that validates integration’s existence than evidence that discredits it. Proponents of integration list a bevy of reasons for why it is necessary. For one, predominantly minority schools tend to be poorer (Black, 2014). Thus, these types of schools typically have poorer facilities and materials, which may lead students to have low rates of achievement. Additionally, predominantly poor and segregated schools find it hard to attract and maintain quality teachers. As a matter of fact, 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within 5 years but teachers that serve mostly low-income students leave within 3 years (Martin, 2014). Thus, students are stuck in schools that are revolving doors for teachers. More reasons that necessitate integration is that it can improve critical thinking; in diverse environment, students are faced with many different perspectives which makes them think through their own or new views more carefully—thus enhancing their critical thinking (Black, 2014). Also, integrated schools better prepare students for the multicultural world they will face upon graduation (Black, 2014).
Clearly, integration enthusiasts have provided some solid evidence as to why integration should happen. But what about the voices of those who don’t deem it essential? Particularly, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or the parents prefer to send their children to predominantly White schools. Dr. Ivory Toldson, Deputy Director of the White House initiative on historically black colleges and universities, does not find diverse student populations absolutely necessary. What he finds to be necessary is that all students have access to the same amount of resources and get the same amount of attention to a curriculum and pedagogy that fits their needs—integration or no integration (Martin, 2014). Thus, a diverse school can exist but if that school does not have great resources, quality teaching, or a quality curriculum—it is still at risk of being a poor performing school. Toldson goes on to say also that just because minorities are in diverse schools, does not mean they are receiving proper treatment (Martin, 2014). He is suggesting in-school segregation. This appears to be a plausible claim especially when one hears that there is a disproportional amount of African-Americans, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American students placed in special education (Yates, 2008).
So many people worked hard to integrate schools back then. It would be a shame to see all of that effort wasted. I really wonder what they would say if they saw the schools today. What would they think of HBCUs or predominately white schools?
Segregation has clearly to revived itself. Now, the real question becomes whether or not we should fight it or tolerate it.
Is diversity or providing students with a quality environment most important?
Where do you stand?
NPR Broadcast: “Does It Matter If Schools Are Racially Integrated?”
Black, D. (2014, May 13). Why integration matters in schools. Education Week, 33(31). Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/05/14/31black_ep.h33.html
Childress, S. (2014, May 15). Report: School segregation is back, 60 years after “Brown”. Frontline. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/education/report-school-segregation-is-back-60-years-after-brown/
Martin, M. (2014, May 16). Does it matter if schools are racially integrated? Tell Me More. [Podcast] Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/05/16/313063913/does-it-matter-if-schools-are-racially-integrated
Yates, J. R. (2008). Demographic imperatives for educational reform for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Multiple Voices For Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 11(1), 4-12.