But a significant piece of the responsibility seems to lie with upper class and white families, and the policies that allow them to ensure that they can educate their children in isolation.
Well…. that policy would be called “freedom.” :-)
There is little doubt, in my view, that the existing racial problems that remain in America will be there permanently until we can fix the disparity in school quality between low income (usually, but not always, minority) and middle/upper income public schools.
But restricting freedom is not a good way to solve them. We don’t want to order people not to move to force them into certain schools, we don’t want to bus students from their neighborhood schools for the sake of integration (been there, done that), and we don’t want to force teachers to take jobs in certain schools but not others. At the end of those roads lies madness.
White communities there have been “seceding” from larger, once-integrated school districts, thanks to a policy that allows any town of more than 5,000 residents to form its own school system. As a result, many of the schools in the state are fiercely divided by race and class.
Well, yes, but that really doesn’t matter. The issue is QUALITY, not the racial mixup of the schools. If Alabama didn’t have that law, then parents would just do what you say Oakland parents do; move into Berkeley when their child reaches school age. Or send their kids to private schools.
Is it really what’s best if my own neighbors don’t have the same choice?
Hm. Who doesn’t have a choice? Why wouldn’t they have a choice?
It’s not an easy choice, but as Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote in her seminal 2016 essay in the New York Times Magazine, “One family, or even a few families, cannot transform a segregated school, but if none of us were willing to go into them, nothing would change.”
Well, nobody wants to sacrifice their children on the altar of social justice. If the Obamas weren’t willing to send their kids to D.C. public schools for eight years, even though they would not have suffered from being the only members of their race in the classroom, then nobody should.
Consider the notion, however, that the racial makeup of the schools is not the primary issue which leads to dysfunctional schools. Kids are all kids, after all, until their socialization starts to pop up in the classroom. Consider teacher quality and school funding for low performing schools also as issues contributing to dysfunctional schools. (Good teachers migrate to higher performing schools, after all.)
On a personal note, where your child goes to elementary school doesn’t matter much. At those ages, they are all cute little bunnies. My daughter went to a majority minority school in a “bad” district for grades 3–5, and we were very pleased with the experience.
Middle school is where the socioeconomic socialization problems start to rear their ugly heads. Sometime in the 6th grade, those cute little bunnies, regardless of race or parental income, become…..difficult. There are not many teachers lining up to teach middle school. And in a school where most of the kids have social issues at home or of their own………education becomes extremely challenging. So, we moved our daughter to a private school for years 6–8, then back into our district school (a magnet for high performing students, but only 2% white) for high school. It’s been great.
Interestingly, after 3 years in the minority-majority school, she didn’t get along well with the rich bitches at the private school. She got through, was involved in extracurriculars, did well, was well liked by the teachers…… but she had learned to have a low tolerance for kids that put on airs. She was much happier back in the high school, where her friends are immigrants and DREAMers, as opposed to the middle school, where one parent’s idea of a good birthday party for her 12 year old was to rent a limo and take the girls to Sephora for makeovers. (Yeesh.)
If you live in a “difficult” district, you just need to steer the ship well. Be a good navigator.