Vox: The Resegregation of Our Schools and What Might Have Been

I recently was invited to write a chapter for a book of essays on the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report. The Kerner Commission was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson in response to an outbreak of civil rebellions concentrated in urban districts. Its report, published in 1968, highlighted racism, segregation, and police brutality. My chapter on education focused on the arc of desegregation that was led by a determined U.S. Office of Education and the federal judiciary, followed by the abandonment of desegregation by the federal courts.

This article traces the erosion of desegregation to the present..

I have often thought that the one big chance we had to stem the tide of resegregation in our society occurred in 2099. Congress reacted to the economic meltdown of 2008 by allocating $100 billion to the U.S. Department of Education. $95 million was allotted to states to keep their public schools functioning. $5 billion was set aside (of the $100 billion) as discretionary funding for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to use as he saw fit to advance reform.

Duncan decided to double down on the carrot-and-stick approach of No Child Left Behind. His Race to the Top program made standardized testing even more consequential than NCLB. If scores were low, he believed that teachers must be held responsible, blamed, named, and shamed. If scores were low, he wanted schools to close. He wanted Teachers and principals fired. He wanted more charter schools. He wanted everyone evaluated by test scores. We now know that NCLB and Race to the Top failed. Many children, the same children, are still left behind. We did not reach “the Top.”

What if Duncan had used that $5 billion to offer a competition for states that came up with actionable plans for desegregation. New district lines, new zoning patterns, whatever would achieve the result of more actual integration. That $5 billion might have reversed the tide of resegregation. It might have changed the face of our society. But it didn’t happen.

This is a dream deferred. But it should not die, not even in the age of Trumpism.

from novemoore http://ift.tt/2fv9WTC

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