“Social Experiments” and the Chicago Integration Merger

By Courtney | May 15, 2017

Another story of the ongoing Jenner-Ogden merger going on in Chicago with some of our Integrated Schools friends in the windy city

There is a lot in here (coded language, property values, racism)… but one thing that jumped out at me was this notion of integration as a“social experiment.” One of the opposing-merger parents stated that “people buy into places where they want to live, where they want their kids to go to school. They don’t buy in to a citywide social experiment.”


I’ve heard this “social experiment” idea over and over (we just talked about this the other day, KB!).  And each time I hear it, I cringe. On one hand, an experiment is something we conduct when we don’t know the outcome, it’s a testing of a hypothesis.  Yet, we DO know many things about integration. We know it can be complicated, we know that we haven’t always done it well or equitably…. And we also know it works. So how, exactly, IS this an experiment?


Maybe THIS specific site in Chicago with THESE particular people is the essence of the experiment – that these two schools have never merged before? Sure. But then, isn’t parenting just one giant experiment as well?  I’ve never had a second kid, or one with XYZ temperament, or a child growing up with her specific ways of thinking about the world mixed with the experiences she’s had. The whole damn thing called life is just a big experiment!


Rejecting integration because we don’t know how it will play out, because we can’t predict it’s future is both a cop out and untrue and exactly THE TRUTH just as life is unpredictable.




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