Greater Greater Washington

Can a diverse and high-quality public school last?

This is part 3 of a series on education in DC. See part 1 and part 2.

Many younger parents who do hope to send their kids to public schools have cited the greater diversity in public schools as a major motivating factor. But current trends suggest that having a public school that's both high-performing and diverse at the same time doesn't last for long.


Photo by University of the Fraser Valley on Flickr.

School isn't only about learning math, science, English and social studies, but about learning to get along with other people. Greater diversity provides a richer range of life experience. Wilson High parent Matt Frumin said in an email about his kids' experience:

While academics are obviously essential (and students at Wilson get rich academic experiences), kids learn both inside and outside of the classroom and one important aspect of a school is to build a sense of community among kids of different backgrounds.
Creating a community that crosses racial and class lines is no small feat and nobody would claim that Wilson has completely succeeded in that effort, but it is at least a place where everybody is present and there is an ongoing effort to do so. If we are ever going to overcome our divisions, we need to do just thattry. And, if we don't do it in our schools, the odds of doing it at later stages of life can only diminish.

Social scientists no doubt can offer measurements of how education in a setting of diversity enhances learning, but for us, the proof is in our kids. Their mix of friends and acquaintances. Their ease with people from different backgrounds. Their excitement about the culture and various cultures at their school. They clearly savor and take pride in their experience and have learned very important things from it.

Candice Santomauro wrote in EdExcellence.net about sending her white child to a school that was otherwise entirely African-American:
Every day after school, as she'd happily bound into my office, blond hair streaming, confident, I'd ask the obligatory, "How was school today?" although what I really wanted to ask was, "Are you OK with being the only white kid?" She seemed either not to notice or not to care. Having grown up myself in an ethnically, culturally, and socio-economically diverse Los Angeles suburb, I hoped she would have a similar experience. I wasn't sure though, if this was pushing it a bit. Finally after a few weeks, I had to ask. She responded, "Mom, we're all just kids." Oh, right. Out of the mouths of babes.
In previous parts, we talked about how the peer group can influence a student's performance. For lower-performing kids, going to school with others who perform better can make a positive difference. Teachers might set higher standards and push kids to achieve more, and their peers would encourage success instead of mock or bully those who work hard.

Therefore, besides the value wealthier parents might find in sending their kids to a diverse school, lower-income kids benefit from the arrangement as well.

Is diversity ephemeral?

Look at the trends in DC public schools, however, and diversity doesn't look so likely.

In the most high-performing schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods, public schools are becoming "good enough" that many parents want to send their kids there, but that means no more spots for out-of-boundary kids.

Mary Cheh has introduced a bill to redraw the school boundaries. That will almost surely shrink the boundary of popular schools like Deal Middle School. Wilson High's enormous boundary, which covers almost all of DC west of 16th Street and even much of Southwest, will probably get smaller as well.

The boundary isn't the only factor determining who goes to a school. DCPS also has a system of "feeder" schools, where all kids from elementary school can go to the same middle school, and so on for high school. It's possible some elementary schools will stop feeding Deal; Bancroft in Mount Pleasant and Shepherd in Shepherd Park are geographically most distant of Deal's feeders. But this would only exacerbate the segregation if Ward 3 middle and high schools become primarily places to educate Ward 3 residents.


Current high school boundaries. Image by the author using Google Maps and data from OCTO. (Markers show the center of each zone, not the location of the school.)

Hardy Middle School in Georgetown is still very diverse racially, but not as much on income; some have charged that the former principal was deliberately trying not to attract local families, but also trying to weed out poor children. There are many schools on the cusp of drawing residents who might otherwise move or send kids to private school, often in gentrifying neighborhoods.

Diversity also often seems short-lived. At Ross Elementary in Dupont Circle, for instance, the school is about one-third white, one-third black, and one-third Hispanic, but that doesn't mean every class is an even mix; the younger grades are far whiter, the older grades far less, as the school's rising reputation drew more of the local residents and their kids. Incoming classes, with no space for out-of-boundary kids, are the least diverse.

As for charters, we already can see that charter schools almost entirely serve people from the eastern side of the District. This makes sense, as some charter programs like KIPP have demonstrated greater success with lower-income kids than other approaches. But is the end of this road one where wards 7 and 8 have no neighborhood schools at all, just charters?

Do we want a world where DCPS is a system that caters only to upper-income neighborhoods, and a totally separate charter system serves DC's poorer neighborhoods? Where some schools are entirely filled with students from well-off families and other schools only serve the poor, where despite going to school in a very diverse city, few children actually interact with anyone from a different background?

How important do you think diversity is in schools? Should DC try to foster greater diversity?

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Diversity is important. Diversity in income, race, religion, and national origin all add a lot to the school experience. Of course, a school has to be able to take advantage of that diversity, and encourage the sharing of diverse experiences, not that there is a black gang and a white gang.

The danger is that we focus too much on "diversity" by numbers, and not on ways to integrate the diverse experiences into schools. Adding a bunch of poor kids to a rich school is not diversity, its a recipe for problems.

The other danger is losing sight of the most important point of school, which is the academic stuff.

by SJE on Jul 19, 2012 1:03 pm • linkreport

Rufus King is an example of a racial diverse public high school that is consistently ranked as a great school. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufus_King_International_School_%E2%80%93_High_School_Campus

by DCDan on Jul 19, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

GIS nerd comment about your map:

What is the point of adding a marker which you call the "center of each zone" when each zone is an irregular polygon? What makes that point the center? Is it average distance from N/S/E/W borders, center of population density distribution, ad hoc guess?

I would have just put the zone borders and centered the marker on the school's location. No need to add complexity or confusion with a meaningless center-of-the-zone mark.

by Will on Jul 19, 2012 2:25 pm • linkreport

The most important thing is to make sure students get a good education; one where they have the skills they need to succeed either in future education or the workforce, and of course to participate fully in civic life.

If that means charters for poor kids and standard public school for the rich, so be it.

by Vinnie on Jul 19, 2012 2:27 pm • linkreport

For diversity and results, it's hard to find any school in the nation that can beat DC's School Without Walls:
http://profiles.dcps.dc.gov/School+Without+Walls+High+School
*Test scores consistently above 95%
*Near-100% graduation and college acceptance rates
*Black: 50%; Hispanic/Latino: 9%; White: 31%; Asian: 5%; Pacific/Hawaiian: 1%; Native/Alaskan: 1%; Multiple races: 3%
*Poverty rate: 22%
Oh, yeah: and it has a rigorous admission process, including a 3.0 GPA cutoff and two rounds of interviews. Which kind of explains its excellent results.

by Tom Veil on Jul 19, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

"Diversity" is highly overrated. There are many, many more important aspects of a school that make it good and make it a good fit for an individual student. Most parents are looking for raw numbers: high test scores, well-regarded teachers, and a high rate of students going on to college.

by JustMe on Jul 19, 2012 2:39 pm • linkreport

I went to all public schools, primarily in small towns and suburbs in the West. I was in the various gifted and advanced programs, and the one part of that which was really unpleasant was experiencing the anti-intellectual hostility of my peers that weren't part of these programs. Anti-intellectualism is a huge threat to the educational prospects of children, and where I got support from my family and other advanced kids, if a kid comes from a poor background, they are far less likely to get that support.

If anything, anti-intellectualism is strongest among poor whites (we had an unabashedly anti-intellectual VP candidate in 2008 who had been governor of a state!), but it manifests in the black community on troubling racial lines, where black kids who participate in class, or excel academically are chided for "acting white" by other black kids.

Because anti-intellectualism is so closely tied to socio-economic status, most upwardly mobile middle-class parents don't want their kids going to a school dominated by low-income students. It's hard to change this feature of many public schools, but it can happen in areas that are gentrifying, which is exactly the experience of the District so far.

by Will on Jul 19, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

Interesting question.

What I wonder is whether the "type" of diversity most of us say we want is achievable in places like DC and other similarly situated areas where there's such a large group of high-wage earners who have more resources available to them. (Private schools/move altogether) This happens to cross racial lines.

The majority of those (black) I know who send their kids to DC's private schools often talk about the fact that their kids are one of the few of "them" in their class/school. This obviously leads me to ask, "well what type of diversity were you looking for."

I also have a good friend (likely part of the 1%) who simply REFUSES to send his kids to private school. He's a southern boy and argues that there weren't half as many options at his high school as what they have here in DC. Yet, his parents (teachers) made sure that he took advantage of every single opportunity available to him. Although he was a Fenty voter (meh) he has consistently stated that he had no intention of transferring his kids to private school. W/two uberprofessional parents, he feels that when it comes to schooling, many parents just punk out and choose the easier option. But that's the whole private/public school debate.

Is the diversity most parents seek racial or income or somewhere in the middle? Does it really cut across racial lines.

by HogWash on Jul 19, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

@Will, but it manifests in the black community on troubling racial lines, where black kids who participate in class, or excel academically are chided for "acting white" by other black kids.

I've never been too certain how accurate this alleged sentiment is. I do believe that this idea has been floated around for so long that it has now been accepted as fact. Are there some who play the "acting white" card? Sure. But I question whether this is a pervasive phenomenon w/in our community at all. It sorta reminds me of the age-old, "black people in poor communities driving and buying things they can't afford." Are we really or is that more perception?

by HogWash on Jul 19, 2012 3:06 pm • linkreport

@Will +1

Coming from an inner city public school system, anti-intellectualism is a significant problem that most school districts gloss over or lack the resources to change.

Fortunately for me, I was able to enter a selective, diverse college focused high school which physically separated both the students and the teachers (just as important) from the anti-intellectual bricks that weighed everyone else down.

Unfortunately for the rest of the city's public school students, they faced abysmal school system with a ridiculous level of dropouts. Even, the students with drive and ambition were significantly hampered. If they chose college, they matriculated far behind their peers in more affluent school districts.

by cmc on Jul 19, 2012 3:11 pm • linkreport

Really good column and I've appreciated this series a great deal. Matt Frumin's comment sums it up for me and certainly echoes my kids' experiences after many years in DCPS. I currently have one at Wilson HS in NW, one at Stuart Hobson MS in NE and one at Watkins Elem. in SE: "Social scientists no doubt can offer measurements of how education in a setting of diversity enhances learning, but for us, the proof is in our kids. Their mix of friends and acquaintances. Their ease with people from different backgrounds." My son is a rising junior at Wilson and just last night we rode over to Z-burger in Southwest for milkshakes, from our home at Lincoln Park. We could barely cross the street for all the kids coming up to him to dap him up in greeting. I love that he and his sisters move easily between different classes, cultures and ethnicities and this alone makes up for all the headaches we sometimes get from keeping our kids in DCPS.

by gina a on Jul 19, 2012 4:08 pm • linkreport

@Will
It looks to me like the markers are set on the centroid of the polygons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centroid

by movement on Jul 19, 2012 4:31 pm • linkreport

I think Vinnie touches on a really interesting question.

In the end - we're most concerned about good educational outcomes and would like to arrive there while also raising them in diverse circumstances (NOT that those objectives are in conflict). What if we got the best educational outcomes for 'all' kids by relying on the public school system for well-off children and the charter system for less-advantaged children?

That would be quite an indictment of the public school system. Before we ever reach that point - shouldn't DCPS have started to learn from charters and adapt (that's one of the main points to charters, right).

DCPS has a good network of schools - but that network is dangerously close to becoming a closed loop which serves only a slice of the city (basically, Ward 3). If we de-couple parts of that self-reinforcing network and hook them into other parts of the DCPS system, do we keep the good stuff at those schools (esp. the elementary schools) while spreading their positive traits to their new networks (especially the high schools).

by tegwar on Jul 19, 2012 6:01 pm • linkreport

@HogWash: I believe the academic treatment of "acting white" was most prominently put forward by anthropologist John Ogbu. The work was not without controversy. The Wikipedia article about Ogbu seems to be a decent summary.

by thm on Jul 19, 2012 8:34 pm • linkreport

It will be a long time before Wilson loses its diversity. The public schools are a definite barrier for white DC parents and except for sitricts where parents actively engage before their kids reach school age this will be true for a long time, as well. A relatively small number of schools accounts for the small change in the racial composition of DC schools. If anything distorts that, it may be the often uncritically acclaimed charter schools.

Still, there's more to school than test scores or the demographic composition of the schools. Having known many products of DC area schools through grad school, postdoc training, teaching, supervising interns, etc, I've always been pretty unimpressed with a lot of the products of DC's tiffany 'burbs. There's more chip on the shoulder than good academic training and some districts have gone through periods of emphasizing test scores over things like current events (I supervised some Fairfax grads with that background). The cmplaint I've heard from Wilson grads has been that there hasn't always been enough practice in writing, but I have to say they're much less likely to be stereotypiucal know it all kids (who don't know much) than many of the products of MoCo and Fairfax. Alexandria, which shares many issues with DC also seems to turn pout decent high schoolers. Still, it will take a a generation or so for DC to have more high performing high schools. One thing they could do is abandon middle school and go to K-8 or or junior high systems. The imposition of middle school has in systems been demonstrated to contribute to increased behavior problems and it mostky was done by districts to better use their post-Baby Boom glut of school buildings.

by Rich on Jul 19, 2012 11:08 pm • linkreport

@THm, yes, Dr. Ogbu. I remember him well from my college's Afro-American history class. In fact, we had a week-long discussion and debate on him.

I said then, as I do now, that the concept of "acting white" might be more applicable at schools in which blacks are a minority. As anedoctal evidence, I considered my own education (100% black except 1st grade), those of my friends, the schools I visited during my independent study and those where I volunteered after I came to DC. All of them attended largely black schools. I do not believe that students w/in top of their classes are chided for acting white because they're acting like the other black students who are more studious. There isn't an immediate and visible parallel...if that makes sense.

OTOH, I have seen more blacks who grew up or were schooled in environment where they are the minority, have the "acting white" label thrown at them. In that context, I believe it's more of a cultural thing than an academic one.

John Ogbu, hadn't heard that name in years.

by HogWash on Jul 20, 2012 9:22 am • linkreport

@thm, yeah you're right. The wiki page is a decent summary.

by HogWash on Jul 20, 2012 9:34 am • linkreport

gina a.-- what do you think of Eastern? I'm sure you had good reasons not to send your son there and instead send him to Wilson and I am curious what those reasons are? We live on Captiol hill and our kids curently attend Brent, so we are really hoping eastern will be a great school soon. Do you think there is hope? The building looks fantastic! BUt if people like you are deciding on wilson (such a schlep!) it makes me worry.

Regarding the actual blog, I think for elementary school, the neighborhood needs to be the focus. Don't draw crazy boundries to create diversity. Instead, the city needs to work to create diversity within each neighborhood. I'm less adverse to crazy boundry drawing for older kids as they can take buses and bike, etc. to faraway schools.

But there is no reason that is good enough in this city to make it so that elementary kids are too far away from their school to walk. If that results in a fairly homogeneous population at the school, that is no worse than a "cure" of gerrymandered boundries.

The tough case is stuff like Shepherd feeding Deal. I don't know what the alternative middle school to Deal would be, but maybe DC needs to sit down with Shepherd families and find out what exactly they can do with this alternative middle school to lure them off of Deal, while simultaneously working to improve diversity in the area directly around Deal. It is not something that can happen overnight. People bought in the Shepard area with the expectation that their kids will go to Deal, so the city needs to respect that. OTOH, school boundries are a fluid thing and as long as DC has a valid reason to cut out Shepherd from Deal feeder-- and being the farthest elementary geographically is as fair a factor as any, plus DEal being overcrowded-- I suppose DC should cut Shepherd out of Deal. But do something to make "x" middle school that is closer to Shepherd a really great option-- maybe provide something that could make it even better than Deal.

by christine on Jul 20, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

“Diversity- the difference between people including, but not limited to, shape, size, ability, gender, color, age, sexual orientation, family background, economic status, spiritual belief, race, culture, ethnicity and political affiliation.”

Unfortunately, the author makes the assumption that racial diversity between whites and blacks = the only diversity that matters. What about the Latinos, Asians, and growing Muslim populations? Let me take it a step further and address the growing diversity of LGBT parents in the DCPS system. Why do they not count? Ross Elementary encompasses all of these things and much more. We celebrated Eid this past year because of our large and growing Islamic population, not a percentage noted in the article because it only addressed race. The limited understanding of diversity and what it entails is what makes this article not fully address the importance of diversity for students and their parents.

"At Ross Elementary in Dupont Circle, for instance, the school is about one-third white, one-third black, and one-third Hispanic, but that doesn't mean every class is an even mix; the younger grades are far whiter, the older grades far less, as the school's rising reputation drew more of the local residents and their kids. Incoming classes, with no space for out-of-boundary kids, are the least diverse." I'm not sure where exactly these facts came from, but I know they are far from accurate. The percentages are also outdated. How do I know? I am a parent of two Ross students and have been the long term ELL (English Language Learners) teacher since January through the end of the year. Ross lost it's full time ELL teacher this past year because last year's numbers did not meet the requirements for a full time ELL teacher, because our high ELL enrollment was down. After many interviews with less then qualified applicants, I agreed to accept teaching in a long term substitute position for the benefit of the students in the school (this is my field as an educator and current consultant in linguistics). All of that changes with this year's enrollment. We will again have a full time ELL teacher in the Fall because our enrollment diversity needs are so high.

This is due to a variety of reasons. Here are the facts, though - this past year's third grade had the largest ELL population followed by Kinder, PreK and Pre-School. Students the article assumes to be white in these lower grades are from countries around the world - from the Czech Republic to Nepal to Italy and speak multiple languages. Their needs are of key importance as are any other students. Those students that seem to fall into the "African-American" segment are actually from Nigeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, etc.

I question whether the author has taken the time to actually talk to the administration, teachers or parents currently in the school. Has the author of this article walked through the school during the school year to actually witness the reality? I would also question whether the writer has walked through schools such as Cleveland, Tyler, Maury and others that I am sure would be equally offended by the standards of diversity stated here.

Ross ES and many other schools in the city are vastly changing in a variety of ways because or their leadership and the surrounding communities. Some, like Ross, value the true definition of diversity and expect that those coming in value it the same way as the established community. The failure of some schools is in part to that the existing culture is not considered worth giving attention and/or collaboration. The 'new generation' assumes they know better. There is value in looking at strengths beyond intellect and economic status and valuing those already there. If you want to improve your neighborhood school, then work with the parents, community and staff already there. Learn what they want and expect and find ways to bring everyone's beliefs together. It's not easy and it doesn't happen overnight, but it's worth it. Ross PTA spent more than $5000 this year in after-school scholarships for students who couldn't otherwise afford enrichment classes not offered by the DCPS after-school program (OST). That stands as an example of how much we value ALL of our students. Where did the Ross PTA get $5000? It was part of the budget from parent-driven fund-raising activities such as revenue from our auction and Holiday Tree sale that is heavily supported by non-parents and neighbors in our community in and around Dupont. Please note that it was hard driven and committed community members that kept Ross going for years.

All I ask of the writer is that when you publish an article such as this, please take the time to get the facts straight and talk about a topic as important as diversity in DCPS in a more substantive way. It will be appreciated by more readers. However, most the parents who know the facts and see it each day already understand this. Diversity doesn't have to do only with color, it has to do with the whole person and their right to a strong education despite the color of their skin and the limited understanding of others who make assumptions based on just that.

by Lee Granados on Jul 20, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

Great article and comments. One question I have that such articles never address is do the demographics of school age children in DC make it possible to have true diversity. In other words, if 70% of school age children in the city are poor and black, then Walls & Wilson and the elementary grades in popular charters with diverse populations are an illusion created by the white minority concentrated in a handful of "good" schools and that cannot be replicated.

If true diversity is possible the map shows potential solution, restructure boundaries east to west and penatrate the long standing "west of park" enclave.

Finally the 2 school links shared are not evidence of diversity and academic success being possible if they have selective entrance criteria. Being academically selective in enrollment obviously will yield high academic performance, with or without diversity. Look at Banneker, 96% black & hispanic,49% free and reduce lunch population and nearly 100% proficient on standardized test every year.

by DCMomPrivPubChar on Jul 20, 2012 11:40 am • linkreport

@HogWash: I believe the academic treatment of "acting white" was most prominently put forward by anthropologist John Ogbu. The work was not without controversy. The Wikipedia article about Ogbu seems to be a decent summary.

I think to get a better understanding of these issues and how they impact education (in DC nonetheless) Cedric Jennings' story is indespensible:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/105/take-a-negro-home?act=2

More here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Hope_in_the_Unseen

by oboe on Jul 20, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

think to get a better understanding of these issues and how they impact education (in DC nonetheless) Cedric Jennings' story is indespensible:

Yep, that sounds more in line w/the truth than the whole "acting white" thing. I believe that it is anti-intellecutalism.

by HogWash on Jul 20, 2012 12:23 pm • linkreport

@Rich

I grew up in MoCo and went to public school there. The only "chip on my shoulder" I have is for folks who would make generalizations about me based on where I came from - and I'm sure kids who came out of DC's public schools feel the same way.

That said, I'm tired of commenters in this series taking its original premise about improving DC's public schools to either bash or generalize the schools in suburban districts, as if MoCo and Fairfax all look like McLean and Chevy Chase. The whole city vs. suburbs trope was dumb when our parents used it against the city, and it's still dumb when people use it today against the suburbs.

For what it's worth, my high school in MoCo was majority-minority and had a parking lot full of used Geos and pickup trucks (for the few kids who drove). I knew more kids who lived on farms than belonged to country clubs.

by dan reed! on Jul 20, 2012 5:20 pm • linkreport

For diversity and results, it's hard to find any school in the nation that can beat DC's School Without Walls:

Umm...not to brag or anything but I'm pretty sure my alma mater beats that school on diversity and achievement. I graduated from Blair in Silver Spring in the first half of the 90s and it was then as it is now equal parts white, black, and hispanic and 10% Asian. It also does very well for itself academically (particularly on the high end such as number of national merit semifinalists and number of kids going to ivies) and has an 8 out of 10 GreatSchools rating.

So, yes, you can sustain both diversity and academic excellence over the long haul...at least if you're in the burbs.

by Falls Church on Jul 20, 2012 7:15 pm • linkreport

Just checked and SWW beats Blair by a few percentage points on test scores but test scores aren't everything. Test scores don't capture things such as Blair's nationally reknowned student newspaper.

by Falls Church on Jul 20, 2012 7:21 pm • linkreport

The anti-intellectualism I've seen seems to be based on socio-economic class, not race. I went to a poor school. Everyone was white. Anti-intellectualism was rampant, not only among the kids, but their parents and grandparents. Many classmates dropped out to work, often with their parents' blessing. The few kids who worked hard in school and got good grades were seen as snobs who thought they were better than everyone else.

I love DC for its diversity, and look forward to sending my son to DCPS in five (!) weeks.

by TJ on Jul 20, 2012 8:02 pm • linkreport

I am a mathematics educator with a long interest in DCPS and other urban school districts (I've worked in San Diego, New York, and Newark). The concern with having defacto two school systems, a white wealthy district based in DCPS west of the park and a poor, minority set of charter schools forming a district east of the river is that that sounds exactly what Brown vs. Board of Education was working against - separate and unequal. The presumption that the only way to educate poor, minority kids is the KIPP way is based in many premises that I would NOT want to embrace. When I taught future teachers, I made sure to remind them that group membership (race, socioeconomics, language) is not determinative about a child. Do not reduce a child to his or her groups. The question is how best to educate this child. To assume that all poor kids or black kids or ELLs need the same thing educationally is essentialist and can screw kids up. I tell a story about how I was moved out of the high math group in 3rd grade for no apparent reason. When I complained to my parents, my mother called the school. She was told that I was chatty and they thought I needed a "male influence" in my life to help with my behavior. Of course, my 6'5" black male father who has now been married to my mother for 50 years flipped out. They made an assumption that I was chatty because I was black and therefore must have a single, undereducated mother. WRONG! I was chatty because I was bored because even the gifted class was too slow for me. My 4th grade teacher totally figured it out and supported my learning to fit MY needs, not the black girl's needs. I may never have gotten a PhD if I had been reduced to my gender and race. And we were solidly upper middle class!

But, this discussion also assumes that the demographics of the city will not change in the next 20 years, which I also think is unlikely. One of the major ways in which segregation has been maintained in most US cities and suburbs is through housing patterns (my best friend did her masters thesis on this project based on Chicago schools). That is the basis of busing. And as a kid who was bussed in Prince George's County in the 1980s, there are clear drawbacks, but also major benefits to the racial diversity that I experienced in my schools at the time. But there real way to get diverse schools is create diverse neighborhoods that feed those schools. Creating affordable housing within the same school boundaries as wealthy enclaves will do more to increase diversity (of all types as many other types than race are also highly correlated with income) in schools than most any other attempt to encourage diversity. Of course, that is a much harder nut to crack.

by kdking on Jul 21, 2012 11:15 pm • linkreport

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