MPR: An Imperfect Revolution, Voices from the Desegregation Era

MPR this afternoon broadcast a really interesting American Radio Works documentary: An Imperfect Revolution, Voices from the Desegregation Era. This is well worth a listen or a read. It provides some valuable insight into things we feel at Crosswinds and Harambee and may give us some legs to stand on with the legislature in arguing that Crosswinds deserves to be saved by Perpich.

When the Supreme Court heard the recent desegregation cases from Louisville and Seattle, more than 500 social scientists filed a friend of the court brief presenting research on the effects of school integration. The brief said kids who go to integrated schools tend to have less racial prejudice, and it said integration has improved school achievement for African American students.

Gary Orfield: There’s nothing magic about sitting next to a white child, but there is a tremendous difference between being in a middle class school and high poverty school.

Desegregation expert Gary Orfield points out that integration doesn’t just mix races, it also mixes social classes, and schools where there are a lot of middle class parents tend to be better schools. More affluent parents won’t put up with poor teachers. More affluent kids encourage their classmates to do well and go on to college. Orfield says schools where most of the kids are black or Latino tend also to be schools where most kids are poor.

Orfield: If you look at these highly concentrated impoverished minority high schools, those are the country’s drop-out factories: a few hundred schools where most of the kids never graduate from high school and almost nobody is prepared for college. These are places that just destroy people’s lives. And to think that we know how to equalize this with just putting some money into them is thinking something that simply is not true.

In other words, as the Supreme Court said 50 years ago, separate can never be equal.

Note, Gary Orfield is the brother of our very own Myron Orfield, who has been waging this battle in Minnesota, most recently as part of the integration task force last year.