families CHOOSING integration


>>  this is always a work in progress…  but here is something of a short and scattered set of resources.  please add more!!!!  >>>

What to do If the School says NO Tour

Some questions to ask every school you are considering!


New to thinking about school integration?  Start here!??

Opting IN to an integrated/ing school? Read these now!:

  • Posey-Maddox, Linn (2014) When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education
    • When middle-class parents engage in urban school communities, they can bring a host of positive benefits, including new educational opportunities and greater diversity. But their involvement can also unintentionally marginalize less-affluent parents and diminish low-income students’ access to the improving schools. Posey-Maddox argues that such efforts, which usually equate improvement with rising test scores and increased enrollment, need to have more equity-focused policies to ensure that low-income families also benefit from—and participate in—school change.
  • Cucchiara, Maia Bloomfield and Erin McNamara Horvat (2009) “Perils and Promises: Middle-Class Parental Involvement in Urban Schools
    • This academic article shows how middle-class parents can bring resources to urban schools and be catalysts for change. However, the relationship between parental involvement and widespread benefit was mediated by parents’ own goals and perspectives as well as by the larger social context. A collective orientation (rather than individualistic) is more sustainable and has greater potential for benefiting all children in the school.
  • Lewis, Amanda & John Diamond (2015) Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools 
    • Diamond and Lewis situate their research in a suburban school, and look at what factors within the school itself could be causing academic disparities. Most crucially, they challenge many common explanations of the ‘racial achievement gap,’ exploring what race actually means in this situation, and why it matters.  This book also includes important discussion of opportunity hoarding practices by white/privileged parents.
  • Okun, Tema (unknown) white supremacy culture,
    • There are many books and resources about understanding whiteness and privilege; read as many as you can!  This short, bullet-pointy article offers a sharp overview of the characteristics of white supremacy culture.  NOT replicated white supremacy culture in your child’s school is critical to building deep and lasting equity, inclusion and integration.
  • Tatum, Beverly Daniel (1997/2017) Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.
    • Is self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides.  A classic, essential read.

Some excellent histories you won’t want to miss:

  • EriksScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.12.35 PMon, Ansley (2016) Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits
    • This is very long and detailed and beautiful and disturbing look at Nashville Tennesee’s history of redlining and segregation.
    • Also, check out this video of Dr. Erickson discussing her book (56min).
  • Demont, Matt (2016) Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation
    • “This groundbreaking book shows how school officials, politicians, the courts, and the media gave precedence to the desires of white parents who opposed school desegregation over the civil rights of black students.Why Busing Failed shows how antibusing parents and politicians ultimately succeeded in preventing full public school desegregation”
  • Ryan, James (2010) Five Miles Away, A World Apart: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America.
    • “Tracing the fortunes of two schools in Richmond, Virginia–one in the city and the other in the suburbs. Ryan shows how court rulings in the 1970s, limiting the scope of desegregation, laid the groundwork for the sharp disparities between urban and suburban public schools that persist to this day. The Supreme Court, in accord with the wishes of the Nixon administration, allowed the suburbs to lock nonresidents out of their school systems. City schools, whose student bodies were becoming increasingly poor and black, simply received more funding, a measure that has proven largely ineffective, while the independence (and superiority) of suburban schools remained sacrosanct. Ryan explains why all the major education reforms since the 1970s have failed to bridge the gap between urban and suburban schools and have unintentionally entrenched segregation by race and class. As long as that segregation continues, Ryan forcefully argues, so too will educational inequality.”
  • On Gifted/Talented
  • Roda, Allison (2015) Inequality in Gifted and Talented Programs: Parental Choices about Status, School Opportunity, and Second-Generation Segregation (Palgrave Studies in Urban Education
    •  This book is rather expensive… here is an interview with Dr. Roda
  • Frontline film (2014) Separate and Unequal (running time 27: 14)
  • Freidus, Alexandra (2016) “A Great School Benefits Us All: Advantaged Parents and the Gentrification of an Urban Public School”
    • Middle-class, professional, and White families in gentrifying cities are increasingly choosing neighborhood public schools. … [yet] as they worked to make their local public school “great,” advantaged parents performed the role of careful investors, defined themselves as the source of the school’s potential value, and marginalized low-income families and families of color. These findings raise important questions about educational equity for both educational researchers and urban school and district leaders.
  • Jean, Daniel (2016) Public School Integration is now Public School Gentrification. YoPhilly.
    • super short opinion piece.

7 thoughts on “Resources…

  1. The data you provided above suggests there are no benefits to attending a segregated school, only costs, so what reason do you think explains the segregation phenomenon? Ignorance of the facts? Racism? Is it wholly irrational?

    Segregation is a fact in other countries as well, I am thinking not of Europe (which is like the US in certain ways) but homogeneous Asian or African societies. I don’t think the elites send their kids to the same schools as the middle-class and poor do. But it’s harder to make the case for racism in a homogeneous society. It’s also harder to make the case for systemic irrationality or ignorance when the phenomenon occurs across human societies. So I wonder what your theory is?

    This part alarmed me: “education stakeholders in suburban school districts — including school board members, parents, students, community activists, administrators, policymakers and attorneys — in promoting racially diverse, high-quality schools”

    Holy COW! I never realized there were so many “stakeholders” in education. But it makes sense. It seems like a really complicated, non-optimal way to run schools and provide education for students. At MOST I could see room for the following: students, parents, teachers and administrators (assuming the teachers aren’t also the admins, especially if the schools are run as businesses). But what are “community activists”, “policymakers” and “attorneys” doing in the mix? And why do they think they should have a say in the education solution I work out with my kids and their teacher (btw, do you include unions in the policymaker field or admins or what? Did you forget them?)

    Can you imagine having this many “stakeholders” in every other area of our lives and how dysfunctional it’d be to have so many people involved in making decisions that really shouldn’t be their business? What if we had 7 “stakeholders” involved in our nutrition, our career decisions, our social network building, etc? We probably have at least this many already in healthcare (doctor, patient, family, admins, lawyers, professional cartels — AMA, etc. — policymakers, drug companies… total chaos!!) Every time a new stakeholder gets added to the pile, the influence and choice of the existing stakeholders diminishes by the same amount. That seems like a problem to me. Maybe THE problem. What ARE all these folks doing here?

    It’s a shame education has to be so political! Or does it?


    1. Interestingly, (to me, anyway) there might be a parallel to this “inflated stakeholder” phenomenon in history. If we think back to the economies of feudal Europe, you probably had a lot of stakeholders in your economic position in life that shouldn’t have been there: you, your family, your feudal lord, your king, the church, your guild (if a professional). That doesn’t seem like a great system for a lot of reasons, it’s a shame we’ve managed to recreate it in the US. I suspect its making the same contributions to the dysfunction of our educational system!


    2. Hi Lion,

      You say “The data you provided above suggests there are no benefits to attending a segregated school, only costs, so what reason do you think explains the segregation phenomenon? Ignorance of the facts? Racism? Is it wholly irrational?”

      I say: I wish I knew all the answers here… What is the root cause of segregation? We could point to segregated housing patterns (but this might also be a the result of a desire for segregated schools), we could talk about how schools are funded, but yes, we also need to talk about very real racism (and classism, for sure).

      But no, it isn’t wholly irrational (though, we you phrase it as you did, it sure does seem insane :)).

      In short, segregated schools — if you’re wealthy in a wealthy school — offer some advantages. Segregated (usually white) wealthy schools simply have more stuff: musical theater, after school programs, less teacher turnover, more AP course offerings, organic gardens, college counselors, etc etc. And for those parents who are really truly worried about our children’s futures and need to stack their formal education with all of these things, these segregated schools bring some peace of mind. Being in the middle-class bubble is very comfortable and stable and, indeed, easier.

      (as I am sure you know, from having read my blog, that I am more than happy to trade many of these away for the very real benefits that integrated schools offer)…

      Of course, if you’re poor in a poor school, segregated schools offer no benefits [though of course there are some exceptional examples, but they are far from the norm]). Why do these continue to exist? Segregation is hard.

      We tried to desegregate for awhile there but many of the de-seg policies have been abandoned. Cries over busing, white-flight, etc have made top-down policies more difficult.

      Magnet programs have emerged as a way to desegregate; the very basic rationale behind magnets are that if we put a really good program (gifted, STEM, arts, whatever theme) in a lower-income neighborhood, middle class families will enroll. To a large degree, these have worked. But not enough (and for a complicated host of reasons)…

      So, thus, comes the purpose of my work — to organize from the ground up parents who are actively looking for and enrolling their kids in integrated schools. If we build our momentum, this can work in a way that our previous policy efforts have lagged.

      Ok… I am going to think about your other question re: stakeholders and get back to you tomorrow.

      (and I would love to hear your story — how did you come to be thinking about integrated schools?? you clearly have some interest and i’d love to know more … )


  2. “So, thus, comes the purpose of my work — to organize from the ground up parents who are actively looking for and enrolling their kids in integrated schools. If we build our momentum, this can work in a way that our previous policy efforts have lagged.” — THIS IS EVERYTHING RIGHT HERE. The idea of mandated/forced integration clearly doesn’t work or won’t work because policy makers would never take the political risk. So it is up to the race/class/ethnicity that actually HAS the choice to make it- and obviously that choice doesn’t have to be the martyrdom/sacrifice/huge big offing mistake that we with privilege think it would be.


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