As one of the most important pillars of our democracy, America’s public education system has the promise of building shared experience, common knowledge, and equal opportunities. However, despite the landmark 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling that “separate is not equal,” our public schools today are increasingly segregated by race and class. Many of our nation’s children of color are left in racially isolated schools of concentrated poverty while their white and/or privileged peers enjoy greater access to more heavily-resourced schools and are themselves largely isolated from learning and growing with classmates who have different life experiences. This caste system of public education magnifies our polarization, harming of our children who are growing up in segregated spaces, thus presenting grave threats to justice and our democracy as a whole.
Integrated Schools is growing a grassroots movement of, by and for parents who are intentionally, joyfully and humbly enrolling their children in integrating schools. Embracing the promise of integrated schools to prepare all students to thrive in an ever-globalizing world, provide equitable access and cultivate meaningful bonds across race, class, and ethnicity, we not only value but prioritize integration. Because school segregation is as much a story of failed public policy as it is one of white/privileged families thwarting it, our hearts-and-minds campaign offers a new model for integration in which this undertaking falls not on the backs of marginalized communities, but on white and/or privileged families who care about equity. By working with parents to examine their privilege and understand that their impact matters more than their intentions, Integrated Schools prepares parents to support meaningfully integrated classrooms that reflect the diversity of their district as well as school communities that respect ALL families and are galvanized around supporting ALL children. Through national organizing to promote local action, we support, educate, develop and mobilize families to “live their values,” disrupt segregation, and leverage their choices for the well-being and futures for their own children, for all children, and for our democracy.
These four areas of action ground our work:
- Generating Awareness – Raising consciousness of the problem of segregation and the promise of integration, we uplift stories, news and research on this topic and provide forums for discussion. Since most school decisions are heavily influenced by social networks, we are sharing stories, news, research that parents can bring back to those untraditional and overlooked places of decision-shaping-power like grocery store lines, birthday parties, playgrounds, etc. We both generate awareness within our networks and empower parents to do this work in their communities.
- Desegregating Our Children – Enrolling our kids in integrating schools is the critical first step toward ending our separate and unequal system. On the path to integration, we start with desegregation. Integrated Schools supports parents in the process of making these decisions through a community of support and providing one-on-one parent mentoring with other parents who have walked this path.
- Integrating with an Equity & Inclusion Mindset – Meaningful integration demands respecting the needs and dreams of all students and families in a school. It means true partnership, mutual investment, being “in service” and “in community”; it cannot be a form of colonization/gentrification. Integrated Schools provides spaces to share better practices.
- Activating Politically – Systemic integration and educational equity policies are not created in a vacuum. Integrated Schools is creating a grassroots demand and personally-invested constituency for courageous policy.
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