Volume , Number 0
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Laurence h. Shoup
Shut It Down
School Segregation Redux
E. Wayne Ross
Science & Technology
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
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School Segregation Redux
Desegregation Orders Being Abolished
W hile public schools were continuously desegregated from the 1950s to the 1980s, the past 12 years has seen a rapid retreat from these efforts as federal courts terminated major and successful desegregation orders. In the 1990s, U.S. Supreme Court rulings in cases such as Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell and Freeman v. Pitts made it easier for school districts to be declared "unified" or desegregated. In the last 7 years, in the wake of these decisions, nearly 50 districts across the country have had their court-ordered desegregation plans abolished.
A study released by the Harvard Civil Rights Project in January illustrates how federal court rulings have contributed to the resegregation of public schools across the nation. "A Multiracial Society with Segregated Schools: Are We Losing the Dream?" examines research on the impact of desegregation and describes patterns of racial enrollment and segregation in U.S. public schools at the national, regional, state, and district levels based on the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Educational Statistics (the report is available at www. civilrightsproject.havard.edu).
Common myths about school desegregation—such as it was a good idea that didn't work, that it increased "white flight," or didn't solve education educational problems—are not supported by the enormous amount of research on the effects of desegregation. The report's authors—Erica Frankenberg, Chungmei Lee, and Gary Orfield—summarize the research on desegregation into three general findings:
- Segregated schools have much higher concentrations of poverty and other problems and much lower average test scores, levels of teacher qualifications, and advanced courses. With few exceptions, separate schools are still unequal schools. Ending desegregation tends to produce a rapid increase of such schools within a district and more qualified teachers tend to leave these segregated schools.
- In systems with desegregation plans, particularly those areas with substantial white enrollment, minority students tend to transfer to better schools and learn more, though a racial "achievement" gap remains. Going to desegregated schools improves students' chances for a desegregated future life, for going to and succeeding in college, and living and working in interracial settings.
- When teachers create positive academic interactions in racially diverse schools, the benefits of desegregated schools increase substantially.
In addition, the author's point to more recent research that shows educational and civic benefits of desegregation for all racial groups. For example, in Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky—the largest urban area in what the report claims is the nation's most integrated state—both black and white students report very positive results on a range of questions on educational and social outcomes. Ninety-three of white juniors and ninety-five percent of black African Americans said they are comfortable working with students of other races on group projects. Even higher percentages of white and black students said they were comfortable in classes learning about each others' cultures.
Despite the educational and social successes of desegregation, federal court rulings combined with the failure of the federal government to fund desegregation assistance programs for over two decades have created conditions for, indeed encouraged, the resegregation of public schools.
The Civil Rights Project report highlights the rapid racial transformation of U.S. schools. Since 1968, black student enrollment has increased nearly 30 percent and Latino student enrollment is up 283 percent. In contrast, public school enrollment of whites is down 17 percent. In every region of the country the school population has become less white and schools in the South and West have the highest concentrations of black and Latino students (and these regions are approaching student populations where whites are in the minority). There are now six states where white students are a minority of the enrolled school population: California, Hawai'i, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Schools in the Northeast and Midwest still have large white majorities.
The Harvard study reports that, on average, white, black, and Latino students all attend schools in which the majority of the student body is composed of students of their own race. Whites are now the most segregated group in public schools—attending schools that on average are 80 percent white. In contrast, the average Asian student attends the most integrated schools (although Asian students still attend schools that are on average 22 percent Asian). Native American students attend schools, on average, in which half the student body is white and slightly less than one-third of students are Native American. Native American students have the lowest exposure to black students among all racial groups.
White students are attending majority white schools at time when minority students make up nearly one-half of the public school enrollment. During the 1990s, the proportion of black students in majority white schools decreased by 13 percent—a level lower than any year since 1968.
There are only two states that have not shown an increase in black segregation in recent years and these states—Michigan and New Jersey—are highly segregated and showed virtually no change. States with large increases in segregation (such as Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina) are home to school districts that had long-running desegregation orders terminated in the 1990s.
Over the past two decades in Kentucky, there has been nearly a 10 percent decrease in the percentage of white students in schools attended by blacks. Despite this decrease in integration, the Harvard report notes Kentucky has had the highest level of black-white exposure in schools since 1980. This is largely the result of consolidation of city and county school systems in metro Louisville, which remain under a desegregation plan.
The Harvard study also identifies the importance of the relationship between racial segregation and poverty. High poverty schools have been shown to increase educational inequality for students because of a lack of resources and qualified teachers as well as low parental involvement and high teacher turnover rates. (There are nearly 200,000 noncertified teachers now, mostly in schools serving poor, minority, and immigrant children.) Almost half of the students in schools attended by the average black or Latino student are poor or very poor, while less than 20 percent of students in schools attended by the average white student is classified as poor. A substantial number of public schools that are virtually all non-white, what the study's authors label "apartheid" schools, have emerged in recent years. These schools educate a quarter of the students in the Midwest and Northeast and are often schools plagued by substantial poverty, social, and health problems.
Teaching For Whites Only?
I n addition to the racial segregation of students, there is a serious race gap between teachers (86 percent of whom are white) and the nearly 50 percent of students who are minorities.
Courts are largely responsible for the resegregation of students, but state and federal legislation has become a serious barrier to increasing diversity of the teachers in public schools, compounding the deleterious effects of resegregated schools. This legislation, in particular the No Child Left Behind Act, relies on standardized tests to improve education and teacher quality.
There is overwhelming evidence that standardized tests are primarily measures of race and class, rather than educational achievement of public school students. These findings are consistent with what we know about college-admissions and teacher licensure tests, which contribute to educational inequality by denying education, scholarships, and access to the teaching profession to minority students, thereby sustaining the race gap between teachers and students in schools.
ACT college admissions test scores, for example, are directly related to family income (the richer the students' parents are, the higher the average scores across income groups) and race (whites outscore all groups when factors such as course work, grades, and family income are equal). The ACT also does a poor job of predicting the college performance of minority students—explaining only 7 percent of the difference in first-semester college grades of black students. Despite its inaccuracies and biases, ACT scores are often used to determine entrance into colleges and for allocation of scholarships. The SAT, which is a direct descendent of the racist anti-immigrant Army Mental Tests of the 1920s, is also plagued by biases that are effective in eliminating promising low-income and minority students from college classrooms.
ACT or SAT test scores above a specified level are required for admission to most teacher education programs. As a result of biases in both these tests large numbers of potential minority teachers are being excluded from opportunities to become classroom teachers. A detailed study of the impact of standardized tests on the teacher candidate pool in Florida indicated that test score requirements eliminated 80 percent of black and 61 percent of Latino applicants to teacher education programs, but only 37 percent of whites.
There is also a long history of cultural bias on teacher licensure tests, which are typically taken upon exit from teacher education programs. A recent National Research Council report on teacher tests concludes that raising cut-off scores on these tests will reduce racial diversity in the teaching profession without improving quality. The differences in average scores among racial/ethnic groups on teacher licensure tests are similar to the differences found among these groups on college admission tests, showing substantial disparities between the passing rates of white and minority test takers.
Most importantly, the NRC found that these tests do not predict who will become effective teachers. The NRC concluded that by their design and as currently used tests like the PRAXIS—the most widely- used teacher licensure test—fall short in their use as accountability tools, as levers for improving teacher preparation, and encourage erroneous conclusions about the quality of teacher preparation. Still, over 40 states rely on standardized tests for teacher licensure.
Efforts to improve learning and teacher quality rest on a misguided use of standardized tests. Rather than improving learning or increasing teacher quality, the latest research indicates that an emphasis on testing results actually lowers student academic performance, increases dropout rates, and serves as a barrier to diversifying the teaching profession with improving teacher quality. A recent study by Arizona State University researchers showed that in states that have adopted high-stakes exams there has been a decline in student performance on independent measures of achievement, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (aka "The Nation's Report Card").
What is To Be Done?
A s the authors of the Harvard study note, segregation is a failed educational policy that produces deeply unequal education and a polarized society. So too is test-driven educational reform. Clearly the struggle for civil rights continues and desegregated schools are an important achievement that must be preserved, but school desegregation is not a panacea.
Frankenberg and her colleagues at the Civil Rights Project offer a basic policy framework that they say is needed to increase integration in U.S. public schools. The framework includes principles such as: (1) explicit recognition of integrated education as a basic education goal and judicial recognition that integrated education is a compelling educational interest in our society; (2) a resistance to terminating desegregation plans; and (3) in cases where schools districts are forbidden to continue its desegregation plan by a federal court, that consideration should be given to efforts to keep diversity by social and economic desegregation.
There is a mountain of evidence documenting the deleterious effects of high-stakes tests on teaching, learning, and society. Many of the backers of these tests are aware of the problems and nonetheless remain committed to their use as a tool to regulate knowledge in schools and universities; to sort students by race and class; and limit access of minorities to the teaching profession. Increasing numbers of students, parents, and educators are pushing back against educational "reform" efforts that divide students and teachers along racial, ethnic, and class lines. The Rouge Forum (www.rougeforum.org), the Whole Schooling Consortium (www.coe.wayne.Edu/Com- munityBuilding/WSC.html), and the Coalition for Commonsense in Education (www.free.freespeech. org/ccse) are three examples of grassroots groups working for more inclusive schools and classrooms; organizing across the barriers of race, class, ability; and acknowledging that schools remain a pivotal, if not the most important, battleground of political and economic interests in the U.S. today.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.