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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Integration doesn’t mean equality

Cambridge, Massachusetts is a model of school integration, but not equal achievement.

School integration is a mirage, writes RiShawn Biddle of Dropout Nation.

Cambridge,Massachusetts is a “leader in school integration,” declare the Century Foundation, balancing most schools by race and socioeconomic status.

Yet, black high school students are far less likely to take Advanced Placement courses or high-level math courses, he writes. They are far more likely to be placed in “special-ed ghettos” where they are “denied the high-quality teaching and curricula they need for lifelong success.”

One out of every four Black children in Cambridge’s district — 25.9 percent of Black children in its care — are labeled special ed cases, as are 25.4 percent of Latino peers. This is almost double the (also far too high) 14.2 percent of White children placed into special ed.

Black and Latino special-ed students in Cambridge have nearly triple the out-of-school suspension rate of their white classmates, Biddle writes.

Other model districts for integration show similar gaps, he reports. “For all the claims advocates make, socioeconomic integration doesn’t address the underlying issues that keep poor and minority children from receiving the high-quality teaching, curricula, and cultures they need for lifelong success.”

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