Integrating schools by economic and social class raises achievement, argues a New York Times Magazine story, which looks at “the new integration” in Wake County (Raleigh), North Carolina and Jefferson County (Louisville), Kentucky.
Yes, it can, counters Richard Kahlenberg on Taking Note. It’s possible to expand urban school district boundaries and bus kids to the suburbs. Progress is possible even if total integration is not.
Even if class integration is possible, it’s not the best way to improve achievement, argues Liam Julian in Gadfly. “Is it not eminently more sensible to devote resources to, say, attracting knowledgeable teachers and building solid curricula?”
He fears “diversity creep.” The diverse school can’t segregate students by achievement.
If increasing academic achievement is the goal, then muddying course rosters by amalgamating pupils of all different academic abilities is foolhardy. It disserves the high-achievers, who must patiently wait while the material they’ve already mastered is repeatedly explained to the low-achievers and who must watch the level of their classroom discourse plunge. And it disserves the low-achievers, who may simply be unable to keep up with the curriculum, no matter how much their teacher waters it down. Teachers know this.
On Flypaper he adds:
The push for socially engineered ratios of white to black, poor to middle-class in schools manages to detract from parentsâ€™ wishes and to distract from a focus on academic achievement and improving the schools that currently exist.
In some cases, social integration is doable and worth doing. But I think many disadvantaged children would benefit more from well-organized schools designed to meet their learning needs. The children of poorly educated parents and the children of educated, middle-class parents come to school with different challenges. What works for one group may not work well for the other.