Two new reports have come out recently documenting (yet again) that attending school with children from diverse social class and racial background benefits all students.
I appreciate the academic discussion around whether race or class should be the variable upon which integration turns.
I appreciate even more that as housing has become more and more socio-economically segregated by race and many suburban school districts thrive on reputations built by serving upper-middle class children, there is still considerable resistance to creating more diverse schools, regardless of how it’s done, and regardless of the decades of evidence of academic advantages for children.
To be clear, there’s evidence that socially as well as racially integrated schools benefit all students. When a school reaches a stable level of about 30 percent middle-class students, the lower-income students achieve at higher levels and the privileged students do no worse, says Halley Potter, the author of one of the Century Foundation reports. Similarly, the racial achievement gap shrinks in schools that have less than a “supermajority” of 60 percent of any one race.
Let’s keep talk about the intersections of race and class, and let’s remain mindful that while we’re talking, another generation of children will move through schools where they encounter only highly privileged children like themselves or children living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, to the advantage of neither, and to the detriment of public life. Let’s keep talking in these conversations about the interest of many parents in hoarding opportunity for their own children as one of the reasons we’ve been having these conversations for as long as I’ve been an educator.