Integration: The Passing of a Great Idea

At some point in the last 50 years we gave up on the idea of school integration even as we annually celebrate the importance of the Brown vs Board of Education decision. I remember, a mere ten or so years after the Supreme Court’s decision, telling students in the Central Harlem school that I was teaching in about this great decision. As they listened attentively I also realized that there was something odd about telling this 100% African American classroom about this milestone in our history. With this in mind I enjoyed reading Matthew Knoester’s chapter in the just published “International Struggles for Critical Democratic Education” (edited by Knoester) on how Mission Hill, the public school I started in the mid 90’s in Boston, has successfully remained integrated for so many years. (He is also the author of a forthcoming book on Mission Hill’s history). It all comes at an awkward moment when the Mission Hill School integrated status (approximately 40% black, 30% hispanic, 25% white and 5% other) is at risk. The authorities in Boston decided to move this one-of-kind from Roxbury into Jamaica Plains. We’ll see. Fingers crossed. But it’s interesting how passé the idea is and how charters–which might have tried to break the pattern–have largely turned their backs on it too.

One Response

  1. with little effort, any of us can just wander by a few schools in the city here (NYC) and EASILY see that the Brown V Brown decision has all but fallen by the wayside here… but it’s an interesting reality from my view point: these days, it’s more about socio economics and the farce that is the SCHOOL CHOICE initiatives (thanks to Bloomberg/Klein legacy and the Educrats at the NYC/DOE ) ; BY increasingly supporting privatization of our schools, supporting charters regardless of their (discriminatory practices), and by forming admissions processes nearly impossible for many families to decipher… the presumed ‘CHOICE’ for nearly all the good schools, our kids have been further segregated by experience, economics, demographics and familial connections. It’s a scandal of the 99% REALLY…. a grave example of how we have further pushed our students into failure and ghetto like scenarios… shame on Bloomberg and Klein … and thanks to them, our city schools are MORE separated and segregated than I remember since the early 1960’s … (yes, I am very very old)….

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