How We Show Up

We identify as a White and/or privileged parent choosing to enroll our child in a school where most of the students are Black, Brown, Indigenous, and/or less economically advantaged. Our intention is to promote integration, but most of our life experiences have taken place in spaces where White people predominate, and we bring with us many assumptions that are grounded in a White-dominant culture – in fact, we are so steeped in these cultural assumptions that we may not be aware of them at all. These resources expand our awareness of how Whiteness tends to show up in integrating schools, help us examine our cultural assumptions, and give us a framework for becoming, with practice, better integrating parents.

Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools
Lewis, Amanda & John Diamond (2015). Diamond and Lewis situate their research in a school located in the suburb of a large Midwestern city, 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 and/or privileged parents.

You can also listen to IS’ May 2019 podcast with Dr. Lewis.

When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education
Posey-Maddox, Linn (2014). 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 improvements at 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.

“New Kids on the Block”
School Colors Podcast (Nov. 2019). Gentrification is reshaping cities all over the country: more affluent people, often but not always White, are moving into historically Black and brown neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant. A lot of people moving into the neighborhood either don’t have kids, or send their kids to school outside the district. In this episode, a group of parents who are new to Bed-Stuy try to organize their peers to enroll and invest in local schools, only to find that what looks like investment to some feels like colonization to others. The entire series is worth a listen.

Inequality in Gifted and Talented Programs: Parental Choices about Status, School Opportunity, and Second-Generation Segregation
Roda, Allison (2015 – Palgrave Studies in Urban Education).
You can also listen to an interview with Dr. Roda:

A Great School Benefits Us All: Advantaged Parents and the Gentrification of an Urban Public School”
Freidus, Alexandra (2016). Middle-class, professional, and White families in gentrifying cities are increasingly choosing neighborhood public schools. … [yet Freidus found that] 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.

How Rich Parents Can Exacerbate School Inequality: fundraising efforts often give their kids an academic edge.
McKenna, Laura (2016), The Atlantic, Jan 28. While this article doesn’t speak directly to school integration, it outlines some of the many ways that White and/or privileged families contribute to deep inequities in our public school system.

“Perils and Promises: Middle-Class Parental Involvement in Urban Schools”
Cucchiara, Maia Bloomfield and Erin McNamara Horvat (2009). 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.