Kirp’s Much Needed Description of School Integration

David Kirp of University of California Berkeley has issued a wonderful article on the ‘one tool that has been shown to work’ – ‘school desegregation.’ Among other positives, Integrating schools is the most potent mechanism to close the achievement gap while providing a great school experience for all students, increasing their odds for successful adult lives. Two comments from us; and then please read the article for yourself!

1. To make progress on an issue such as the achievement gap, we need to understand history as well as modern political postures and supposedly data-driven theories/solutions. History tends to help us untangle our great societal confusion that is the result of the limitations of only viewing problems as new or sans context. It’s as if we are trying to untie a complicated knot while disregarding an accounting of how the knot-tier did his thing! We think Kirp’s analysis – more like a story of our flirtation with and then collective abandonment of school integration – illuminates an important and simple key to our modern education woes.

2. Intentionally creating school integration comes out of the idea that the ‘achievement gap’ is really one piece of an overall ‘life gap’ that in turn is ultimately a lack of a truly cohesive and integrated society (e.g. a de facto segregated one). We agree with that framing. It seems much more like the root of the issue. This then means that only integration and cohesion among students, their parents and their educators can ever instill in our communities the will and the means to close the gaps between people. Note the progressive work of organizations such as the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race that are doing just that.

Finally, this leads us to a real issue that we fear is once again in play with talk of isolating special schools for young black males or allowing more subtle forms of isolating types of young people into niche schools. Yes, it’s time we have to re-ask the question that we already know the answer to – can separate ever be equal??  No, no it can’t.

The article link again:

David Kirp’s Article: “Making Schools Work” May 19, 2012. NYTimes.com.

Cheers to all the answers we have that we choose to ignore,

-E and E

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Respectful, thoughtful discourse is welcome

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