As we approach the 67th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), we are revisiting our series looking at the stories we tell ourselves about Brown v. Board. The way we understand this case and its legacies do the work of making sense of our past and mapping out our future.
In this first episode, we are joined by Dr. Rucker Johnson (UC Berkeley). Dr. Johnson shares some of the research and findings in his book, Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works. Using a longitudinal study of the children and grandchildren of Brown v. Board, Dr. Johnson shows us that desegregation did have profoundly important effects on individuals and communities even while we gave up on it too quickly.
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The Integrated Schools Podcast was created by Courtney Mykytyn and Andrew Lefkowits.
This episode was produced by Andrew Lefkowits.
Audio editing and mixing by Andrew Lefkowits.
Music by Kevin Casey.
[email protected] Rucker Johnson Revisted
Andrew: Welcome to the integrated schools podcast. I'm Andrew, a White dad from Denver, and this is Brown v Board at 67: Rucker Johnson Revisited. Two years ago, to mark the 65th anniversary of the monumental Supreme Court decision in the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka case, my former cohost, the late great founder of Integrated Schools, Courtney Mykytyn, and I put together a six- part series on the case called The Stories We Tell Ourselves- Moving From Desegregation to Integration.
Far from a comprehensive history, it was really intended to confront some of the problematic ways that we talk about the case and our progress as a country since then. To call out some of the myths we often tell about the case, in the hopes that coming to terms with them might help us find a new path forward. As Courtney said in the original intro for this series:
Courtney: The narratives about Brown v. Board and by extension school segregation in general, they do this work of making sense of our past and then that helps illuminate how we move forward. Stories are super, super powerful, and they do work. They do cultural work. But some of the stories are doing the work of opportunity hoarding and White supremacy.
Andrew: These episodes, and the stories they get at, continue to feel really important. And seeing as our listenership has grown significantly since then, we decided to drop a new edit of each episode into your feeds every day this week. I'll keep some of Courtney in my conversations on the episodes, as well as some new reflections on what resonates for me now, two years later.
While so much of the cultural conversation around race has shifted, much of the conversation around schools continues to feel stuck in a narrative based in myths, many of which still feel, to me at least, to be tied to the ways we think about Brown vs. Board of Education.
So the goal is to look at some of these myths with clear eyes, in the hopes that we can start to tell different stories, do different cultural work.
And perhaps the most important myth to try to undermine is that Brown v Board somehow ended racism in school. Like, it clearly put some legal hurdles in the way of explicit racism in student assignment policies, but when we tell the story that it solved racism in schools, it pushes so much of the lingering racism underground, into ostensibly race neutral stories that serve the same purpose. I'll let Courtney and I from two years ago explain the rest.
Courtney: These other things about educational injustice became kind of like naturalized conversations, right? Like, we’re replacing racism with color blindness. And we're talking about good and bad schools and good and bad parenting and bussing and local control and best fit for our kids. You know, like, we've been able to busy ourselves with stories that matter, but maybe they're not the stories that are at the heart of the matter.
Andrew: Brown v. Board was not the end of school segregation and that, you know, that was because of sort of Whiteness coming to the rescue to fight it. White parents voted, White parents served in legislative and judicial capacities. White parents who, you know, joined the school board, who White flighted, who seceded from districts on and on and on, the policy bent accordingly.
Courtney: Yeah, nor was Brown v. Board the beginning of efforts to desegregate right? Just as battles around desegregation are not just like a Black and White race issue, and we'll hear more about that in this series, too.
Andrew: Nor was desegregation and its resistance only a sort of racist South thing, right? The North, the West.
Courtney: And here's another one, nor was Brown v. Board a story about how bad Black schools are or were and conversely, how wonderful White schools and teachers are or were, right? Like that's a super entrenched myth.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, that’s a big one. The idea that Brown was based on Black people wanting into White schools because they were so superior? That one we gotta push back against.
Courtney: Yeah, so this series is kind of trying to ask: What if we did it differently now? Can we learn lessons? Can we retell our stories and start anew? What can we dream, what can we imagine for a world in which we actually took the opportunities of Brown v. Board and engaged with them differently with different stories?
Our past failures don't predict future failures, right? Like not if we can really unpack them and feel their weight and learn those. So uncovering these myths gives us a different kind of opportunity to talk about and be a part of real educational justice.
Andrew: That's the hope. So that was what we set out to do two years ago. And certainly my understanding of Brown v Board changed dramatically thanks to all of the amazing guests who are willing to come on and share.
And while it's clear that the national conversation around race has shifted in some ways, hopefully revisiting these episodes can help to reframe the conversation we're having around schools. So, if you're new to the podcast, we hope you enjoy these episodes. If you've heard them before, maybe you find something new in them this time around.
To kick it off, we were fortunate to have Dr. Rucker Johnson, whose book Children Of The Dream was just about to come out when he joined us two years ago. Since then it has been featured as one of our book club selections, and we were so fortunate to get to have this great conversation with him.
Let's take a listen.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: I’m Rucker Johnson, economist and professor of public policy at the Goldman School at UC Berkeley. Most of my work looks at the ways in which poverty and inequality affect children's later life chances.
Our book Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works, I did it jointly with Alexander Nazaryan, who at the time was a senior writer for Newsweek. And one of the things that is true in this effort is that to glean the most useful policy conclusions, we recognize that quantitative data would give us an aerial view, but that we would need to match it with some on the ground qualitative evidence from discussions with school leaders, teachers, judges, policymakers and others on the front lines. And it's really this ability to combine the original quantitative analysis and qualitative interviews that helped us ensure that our data mirrored the lived experiences of those who were exposed to these landmark reforms.
Andrew: Yeah, the book is a wonderful mix of these personal stories and then this really compelling economic data, and the way it's weaved together is, is really strong. Can you tell us what the sort of the, the three main educational policies that you end up focusing on in the book are?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: The book focuses on three of our most important equal education opportunity policies we pursued over the last sixty years. School integration, which is arguably the most controversial social experiment of the past fifty years; school funding reforms that aimed to equalize the distribution of school resources to ensure that funding for schools was not simply a reflection of the wealth of a local community; as well is preK investments that aimed to ensure that investments in the preschool years allowed children to be more likely to be school ready.
We put data that spans generations from 1950 to the present, using the longest running panel data set in the world, the panel study of income dynamics across multiple generations, where we're following kids from birth to adulthood and matching their access and exposure to school funding reforms, school integration, preK spending, and trying to look at how the trajectories of their life chances were affected by these reforms. So we took a very systems approach and a very long view to document impacts, and then we move forward to the resegregation that's occurred since 1990 to document how the advances that were achieved through the integration era, how they were undermined over the last 20 years and trace out the way forward.
Andrew: It's a, uh, a massive data set and a lot of information that you've pulled together, along with these stories, what, what did it tell you? What, what did you learn? And what did you learn that, that maybe is, is different from what, what you expected or, or what the sort of conventional wisdom is?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: Yeah, I think what's important is there's a lot of missing traction of conventional wisdom that's not, in effect, rooted in empirically grounded recent scholarship in accord with the new evidence on the kind of causal impact of these policies. So in some way, you know, Mark Twain once said: it's not what we don't know that kills us, but what we know for sure, that just ain't so. And so there's a lot of this kind of we think we know, like we hear that desegregation failed, that it was social engineering without any real benefit. And so we've turned away from integration as a goal and school desegregation as a strategy.
But, but it actually turns out that when you do the requisite empirical work, being able to follow children from birth and into adulthood, you actually see a very different picture emerge where we see desegregation having big and lasting impacts, and not just on educational outcomes. But on earnings and health, as well. And one of the big misconceptions is that because Brown is 1954, we somehow in our head think that this was tried for a very long period of time. But if you actually look at the implementation of integration efforts in the kind of holistic way, there's really only a 15 year window in which there was significant integration efforts, and so it's very uneven in terms of the timing of, of implementation, very delayed the first decade after Brown, there was no significant integration, actually achieved…
Courtney: All deliberate speed, right?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: All deliberate speed, exactly. You know, without having long run data and nationally representative data, we would not otherwise be able to really address it with an open mind and follow the data and evidence wherever it may lead. And that bolstered the validity of our argument that when strategically implemented together, that school integration, school funding equalization, and early preschool investments, that when those are sustained over extended periods of time, equal education opportunity policies can and do work.
You know, individually integration seeks to accomplish that goal by redistributing schoolchildren. School funding reforms aimed to achieve that by redistributing resources. And the expansion of preK investments do it by redistributing the timing of school investments back to the earliest years of cognitive development. And each of the policies on their own make a difference. But it's really together that they enhance one another. And it's in that way that we are kind of conceptualizing integration as more than a policy, but the very approach to policy and in ways where the pursuit of integration is not an end of itself, but a means to this broader goal of equal opportunity, where there's a big difference between the collection of good policies versus the strategic combination and building on the synergies of these policies when implemented together, as opposed to in in silos.
My quest and the book was motivated out of the realization that if we fail to draw out the lessons from our storied history of school integration, that school funding reforms will force current or future generations of schoolchildren to relive the same inequities of opportunity day over day.
Andrew: I feel like there's some sense out there that, that we did this, right. We, we did school integration. We had Brown v Board. We’re sort of done with this. And you're, you're saying that, in many ways it worked that there were positive outcomes to it , why should we still care about this today?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: Well, so I think on that, you know, there's some thought that, well, haven't we already done these things? Haven’t all these things that you're talking about been tried? And I guess the answer that is well, yes, but not in the kind of holistic cure we prescribed. See, in most places and times, these policies were advanced one at a time, unevenly, inconsistently, and each policy often framed initially as a panacea, that all we had to do is you have kids in the same school, not realized there's this other process that might resegregate children by classroom , in ways that actually reproduce inequality not based on kids capacity to learn, but rather on implicit biases that we often have that underestimate particularly poor and minority kids’ potential often.
So when we say haven't these things been tried, it's actually the substantial variation in the timing and implementation across districts in school desegregation, school funding reform, and expansion of preK spending that gives us exactly like this rare testing ground for examining what we call the first generation suite of Equal Opportunity Policy initiatives.
And so it’s really that the slow and uneven pace of integration, as well as the school funding reforms, that enables us to use those as a national experiment to evaluate whether these policies and integration in particular work.
So, for example, while some Black students born in 1960 may have experienced integration for all twelve of their school-age years, other Black students born in the same year but from different school districts, may not have experienced even one year of integration. And so it's really this ability to compare the outcomes of otherwise similar children, but who differed in how many years of integration they experienced, how many years of access to school funding reforms and in preK spending, that gives us the traction to be able to document what these long run impacts are.
Courtney: Yeah, this is a monster project.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: Yeah. We wanted to look at the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage and whether these policies can break the cycle of poverty. And in fact, that's precisely what we were able to document. Now we have access to this longitudinal data of more than 15,000 kids followed from birth to adulthood, and it's not only that we're able to follow that generation of kids, but all of those kids are now in their forties and early fifties, and they all have their own kids. And so we're able to actually trace out that the benefits of desegregation that we document actually carry over and we see benefits for the children of that generation.
So what I will refer to as the grandchildren of Brown, that children born since 1980 but whose parents experienced this integration, that their kids’ college attendance rates are actually greater; that if their parents, particularly White parents, were exposed to integrated environments as children, that as adults they tend to live in more integrated environments. One of the things I'm trying to kind of undergird with this is that the results demonstrate that integration isn't a zero sum game.
Andrew: When you say there are benefits are, we like, what's the scale that we're talking about here?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: So keep in mind that as late as 1960, only 20% of Black men were high school graduates, compared to about 50% of White men, and in that only 3% of Black men had college degrees, compared to 13% of White men. But by the late seventies and early eighties, college enrollment for Black 18 to 19 year olds rose to rates similar to those for White students. That's striking, and what our work shows is that desegregation played a dominant role in explaining this convergence. We show that the estimated effect of desegregation exposure throughout your school-age years, for Black children, prove large enough to eliminate the Black/White educational attainment gap.
So, we're actually demonstrating that when these investments occur, that when the kind of school resource equity, the school integration environment, it creates a capacity of kids to reach their full potential in ways that would otherwise not be possible.
And what we show is that exposure to diversity in grade school, significantly impact one's outlook on race and that socioeconomic status colors these perspectives on race as well, but that when kids have exposure beginning in the earliest school age years, that we find in adulthood, that when they're exposed to this diversity, White and Black students alike, that we find particularly White students have much greater empathy toward children that are different from them in life experience and background, that they tend to have much more racial tolerance that maybe their parents didn't have. But because they had that exposure in their earliest school-age years, we're seeing those impacts.
And what's probably most striking of all is our study finds that a 25% increase in per pupil spending experienced throughout the school-age years could eliminate the average attainment gaps between children from low income and non-poor families, and that the longer students are treated for the symptoms of poorly funded education and the higher doses of school funding reform they administered, the better their outcomes tended to be.
Andrew: It's dramatic.
And I, I feel like it's not the story we usually hear.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: There's a significant, even in the scholarly literature, there's a significant kind of conventional wisdom that the increases in school spending have not led to significant improvements in children's life chances, Because we currently have big achievement gaps. So how could it be the case that these policies were so impactful? And today we're looking at achievement gaps that are still so large.
You know, that's kind of what causes people to not realize that these policies were working, but they were not sustained.
This is not to ignore ways in which this was extremely difficult for the pioneers of integration, ways in which they confronted significant resistance and that produced a lot of scars among the Black community about whether this is a worthwhile effort to do when, you know, Black teachers often got laid off. This is not to sugar coat or have a revisionist history about the tension related to these efforts. It's only to say that when true integration took hold and remember, basically we reached peak integration levels in 19… the late eighties, like 1988 we’re at the peak integration and basically every year since 1990, we've regressed and our schools have become increasingly resegregated. And some people have a view that that is just the natural way of parents choosing and it's not really something that was policy induced. That's actually not true. This is actually very much the direct consequence of explicit policies that gerrymandered school districts, that lifted court ordered school desegregation efforts in ways that lead to return schools to neighborhood schools. And obviously there's suburbanization and White flight, middle class flight, that reinforced that. But I think it can't be overlooked that, as we document in the book, when true integration occurred, we showed that it had the redemptive power to heal divisions, that it can serve as an incubator for ideas and exert this kind of gravitational pull to bring people together across racial lines.
Andrew: That's great. So, so taking that historical context and that understanding, what, what did that tell you about sort of the way we think about trying to fix schools now?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: Quite frankly, you know, I think our current reform policy debates suffer from what I think of as a Groundhog Day Syndrome. You know, if you remember from the movie, every day keeps repeating itself, and you know, it feels like there is a type of policy amnesia that results in one giant repeated pattern of failed school reforms, that I think we'll continue if we don't take seriously the lessons from the first generation suite of Equal Education Opportunities policies. And those include school desegregation, school finance reform, and Head Start. And if we're able to import the lessons from the long running impacts now of those policies into our contemporary policy debates, then I think we're going to be armed with the ability to address the persistent opportunity gaps that we see existing between children from lower income versus affluent families and communities.
You know, politicians are often fixated on budget deficits when we should be more concerned with the deficits of opportunity facing disadvantaged children. And if you just remember from Groundhog Day the movie, Bill Murray stars as this weatherman who experiences the same day over and over again until he's finally able to graduate when he got it right and learns to love. You know, in our case, it’s the love of equal opportunity for all children, irrespective of zip code and skin color.
You know, as an, as an empirical researcher, our job can be seen as a type of meteorologist. We make projections, we use the best available evidence to inform our policy prescriptions. What's clear about this forecast is that diversity is a centerpiece of our collective future. And whether we prepare our students today for that reality and harness its immense value, is really the choice before us.
Andrew: One of the things I really appreciate about your work is that it is, it is this sort of retrospective looking back at this incredible dataset and pulling out these threads, but then really looking forward and saying, you know, what should we do with that information? What's special about right now? Like why release this book now?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: There's unprecedented racial diversity of the overall population of U.S. schoolchildren, and despite that value, more than half of children now attend hypersegregated schools, where over three-quarters of enrolled students are either White or minority.
So we're back to the levels of segregation that prevailed in the early seventies, really, before bussing began in earnest. And, you know, part of this is that segregation is not only about separation of people, but it's, it's, it's the segregation and hoarding in fact, of opportunity.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: So that's where we're really trying to hone in on why does segregation matter? How does it matter? How does it affect children's learning opportunities? Their subsequent educational trajectories? so what the evidence shows is not only that these are wise public investments in our future, but that they more than pay for themselves in the long run. Now you say, well, how might they pay for themselves in the long run? So, the monetary savings from lower educational remedial costs down the road, reduced likelihood of public assistance, the averted costs of crime. Because these are policies that actually reduce criminal involvement and incarceration likelihood. The reductions in health care costs, the increased tax revenues from more working age adults being more productive because of the individual gains they made as youths.
And so when we elect to forego these critical early life public investments and disadvantaged children, we pay for it. We do pay for it dearly down the road. Reduced national and state tax revenues, less economic growth, greater strains on state and federal budgets, increased crime, poor health. You know, so, part of the importance of this is that these are not the problems of marginal, poor, and minority kids. These are problems that, if we don't address them, affect our collective future.
Andrew: So even if your baseline is not a sort of moral drive for greater equity for greater social justice, if you're not interested in kids finding shared humanity, if you're just like purely in it for the economic benefits, you should still be in favor of integration, is what you're saying.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: Yeah. And when I'm saying integration, I want to be clear that some people think of what I'm saying as the more narrow desegregation effort that just reshuffles children, without the other pieces that I'm talking about, that are about teacher quality, school funding reforms, investing in kids early. But you have to think about this in a holistic way. But when you do, and in places in which that was done, these results are profound.
Courtney: Yeah. We talk a lot about the difference between desegregation and integration. From a parent perspective, we can desegregate our kids just by enrolling them at a global majority school, for example. But, but integrating our families is much different kind of work.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: It's messy. It's it's it's it's, you know, real conversation to have to happen. Exposure to people that are different from you. It can be a little scary. It requires a communitywide embrace. And children from the period that experienced this kind of peak integration, they’re actually some of the best advocates of the policy itself. When Louisville and Seattle, when they came under litigation scrutiny with the Parents Involved case and just maybe, for some of the listeners that aren't familiar, this is the 2007 Parents Involved case that ruled that it was unconstitutional for race to be the sole factor in student assignment plans to achieve diversity.
Courtney: Like the folks who stood up in opposition, to what eventually became this ruling, were people who had been in these integrated school environments, right?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: And the majority were Whites. While we're focusing on the negative outcomes of resegregation, it misses a key point that it's not simply that resegregation portends a loss of opportunity, mobility and unity, but it’s that integration has the power to transform communities in societies in ways that we've only begun to realize. That's why kind of looking at racial attitudes, the polarization of racial attitudes, the kind of increased inequality, the way our communities are even more segregated by race and class. That's not a coincidence.
What's important is that our current labor force and the new jobs of this 21st century knowledge-based economy, place a high premium on people that have these leadership qualities to lead a diverse set of people from diverse backgrounds. And so, you know, no matter where our children live and work in the future, their neighborhoods will be multicultural, part of a global community, and our failure will be in not adequately preparing them for that new reality.
Andrew: Um, yeah, the, the stories of White people who attended integrated, or at least desegregated, schools and have stood up for brave policy on occasion, feel important to highlight. And we certainly hear at Integrated Schools from, you know, a lot of parents who maybe had that experience for themselves growing up and are frustrated that they can't find the same for their kids, but, but it does feel like kind of the, the primary, pushback - the primary line coming out of White communities was, This is going to ruin our schools. This is going to lead to worse outcomes for our kids. That, you know, this is, this is going to overall be a bad thing for us.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: What the evidence says is the fears that integration was gonna lead to worse outcomes for Whites. None of that transpired.
And the reason why we don't find significant improvements for Whites for like, say, educational attainment and high school graduation rates is because what school integration did was level up. So that Black kids were now receiving the level of resources that White kids were getting all along. And so what we're really documenting is that when you have equitable school resources, that the school quality differences that cut over a long race and class lines actually are able to be narrowed in significant ways that have these impacts. But how do these affect White kids? I would definitely show that the impacts on racial attitudes are most pronounced for White children. That when they're exposed to integration, we see much more racial tolerance, much lower levels of racial prejudice. And we see much more empathy expressed around the experiences of people who are different, and I think a lot of the impacts for Whites are more difficult to measure but no less important outcomes.
Courtney: Yeah, I mean, empathy isn't as easy to numerically, quantitatively account for, right? Like, maybe that's just the anthropologist in me, but, you know, yes, it's different. It's different from assessing math standards.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: So we profile a number of families, even from the era that was the early era of desegregation, who are White families that stayed in the district and did exceptionally well. The kind of throughline seems to be that they have a more civic-minded orientation that looks for the value of diversity in all of their ongoing efforts. We found that people who actually experienced these environments, it was very clear that it shaped their subsequent trajectories in real ways.
Andrew: So what now, what, what do we do with all this information?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: It requires a coalition of school leaders, of some policy changes, of parents involvement. It's curricular reform that's required. Like in order for this stuff to mesh, it's not enough to have Black kids with the White kids. Then you have to think about curricular reforms that are reflecting the diversity of kids in the classroom. You have to think about the diversity of teachers and making sure they have these kind of cultural competencies to inspire kids of different backgrounds. It requires all of these pieces in concert.
Courtney: Was there any one thing in this research that really struck you? That was surprising?
Dr. Rucker Johnson: I think it's a great question. So I think that, um, I had done a great deal of quantitative work before I had done some of the key qualitative interviews. And the qualitative interviews span generations. So I'm interviewing judges and school leaders and teachers and parents and kids that experienced it as kids, these reforms and you know, their reflections of what it meant. But one of the things that, particularly, when I was interviewing the kind of pioneers of integration and just heard firsthand accounts of the resistance, of the firebombing of a Black family who was on the school board of the first integrated community in Charlotte. And I think what, what I found profound about it was that despite the greatest intensity of resistance that they faced, when I asked them: would you do it again? Do you still believe in integration as a goal, as school desegregation as a strategy? Do you think that this is something that we should discontinue and move to other strategies to try to address these issues? Or do you still believe that it's possible and possible today? And I'm not saying they all said the same thing in the same way. But what I found profound, is their commitment and their resolve, that they still believed in the importance, and were willing to do whatever it took to continue therein.
I try to think of myself as both social justice-minded, but also not just advocacy based, but evidence based. Like, I only want to do evidence based advocacy. If the results say school disintegration doesn't work, I don't want to be the one saying it. Like if it doesn't work, it doesn't work, let's move on to something else. And I could appreciate if they were like, after all we've experienced, after all, all the scars we took. Because a lot of the burden of integration was put on the backs of Black families. So, when I listened from Memphis to Charlotte to Boston to Evanston, I think I was struck by the expressions that this is something that's worthy of our attention and that this effort needs to be revived. So that really quickened me. It inspired me to go forward with the work in a way that I don't think I anticipated.
Courtney: I don't know how to thank you enough, Dr. Johnson, for joining us. This is really, really great. And I am, I am waiting with bated breath to get your book.
Dr. Rucker Johnson: I especially just wanted to thank you for your interest in my work.
Andrew: Thank you so much, Dr. Johnson.
Andrew: That was really great. Huge thanks to Dr. Johnson. You know, I think the impacts of desegregation, higher earnings, improved racial attitudes, desire to live in more integrated environments, you know, that, that makes sense to me but it's really great to have this sort of real meaningful research to back it up.
Courtney: Yeah, and when we can see that the effects of desegregation have these intergenerational effects, when we can talk about the grandchildren of desegregation in a meaningful way, it's really encouraging. Yes. So how many times Andrew, were you holding back from saying “it's generational work”?
Andrew: Yes, it is. But it is generational work, right? And it's like the research proves that it can have a generational impact if we keep at it. If we keep trying. You know, Dr. Johnson's work shows us the positive impacts are actually there and that we sort of gave up on it just way too soon.
Courtney: Yeah, and I think in thinking about his three-pronged policy strategy of preK, and fully funded schools and, of course, integration, I'm once again imagining the force we could muster for the first two, if we actually had skin in the game. If we as White and/or privileged families intentionally desegregated our kids and integrated our families.
Andrew: 2021, Andrew, back now, and looking back in this episode, I'm just struck by how relevant it all still feels. Dr. Johnson's approach to, to breaking out of the Groundhog Day cycle, you know, uh, an integrated approach involving school funding reforms, investments in pre-K, school integration, the importance of getting that right feels even more critical now. The stakes feel even higher.
One of the tensions I feel with this episode is that, you know, on the, on the one hand, Dr. Johnson is really highlighting some of the benefits that came from our past attempts at desegregation. And those are real and they're important. And on the other hand, and I certainly think Dr. Johnson highlights this piece in his book and, and, and in this episode, but I don't want to lose sight of the harm that came from the Brown decision. There was much gained from our disjointed and short-lived attempts at desegregation, but that's not to say that, even at peak desegregation in the late eighties, we had somehow eliminated racism from our schools. Right. The harms were real. And if we don't keep those centered in our minds, I think it's easy to think that a return to past models of desegregation is all we need. And this is why we often talk about needing a third wave of school desegregation, really something new, you know, this is why the Five RS of Real Integration from IntegrateNYC feel so important, and this is why tomorrow's episode features Dr. Noliwe Rooks to really focus on some of the costs of the Brown decision.
Many thanks to Dr. Johnson. And, you know, despite being nearly a year and a half out from her death, it's still so bittersweet to work on these old episodes that had Courtney.
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Grateful to be in this with you as I try to know better and do better. See you tomorrow.