Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 14, 2016

Diversity matters

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:10 am

Thanks to everyone who came out to support Ruby Bridges last night or sent an email in support.  Ruby Bridges has a reprieve from closing those two classes, more detail on this tomorrow.

An important story in the Atlantic in light of what happened to Ruby Bridges over the enrollment issue and what leads some families to choose somewhere that’s not their neighborhood school.  Highlights, but the entire complicated story is really worth a read, particularly for those interested in education issues:

“All of the choice-based reform efforts that they’ve come up with over the last 20 years have been designed to bring back all the white people who left after Brown v. Board. But the irony is that, if [districts] keep relying on choice, they’re going to be set up for failure because white people will not enroll their children in schools unless they’re already [predominantly] white,” said Natalie Hopkinson, a black parent and journalist, referring to extensive research showing privileged, white parents tend to send their kids to schools that they perceive as “high status.” “So the segregation keeps repeating itself as long as you rely on choice as a way to make the change.”

According to Jonathan Kozol, the educator, activist, and author of The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, racial isolation in schools has been addressed “as an injustice that was caused by the particulars of politics and funding practices at local levels, with the moral obligations of the nation as a whole almost entirely shunted out of view.” This pattern continues to this day.

Today, roughly four in 10 black and Latino students nationwide attend schools that are at least 90 percent nonwhite, according to a Civil Rights Project analysis of Department of Education data, while a typical white student attends a school where three-quarters of her classmates are white. Economic segregation has also intensified in the past two decades, primarily affecting students of color—what the Civil Rights Project calls “double segregation.”

The idea behind “separate but equal”—the very principle Brown overturned—persists. In fact, segregation is a significant reason the country has struggled to eliminate race-based disparities in achievement. Decades of research, including a 2010 review of dozens of studies on the relationship between school composition and student achievement in math, clearly and unambiguously demonstrate that diverse schools produce better outcomes for children.

Better test scores, of course, aren’t the only reason diverse schools matter. Integration is inherently good for all children. The cross-cultural exchange it allows prepares them for the real world—and, perhaps more importantly, to be good citizens. As Kozol put it, there’s an innate value in children from different backgrounds interacting with each other “in all the ordinary ways that children come to know each other when they go to school together and play games with one another and share secrets with each other and grow bonded to each other by those thousands of small pieces of perplexity and fantasy and sorrow and frivolity of which a child’s daily life is actually made.”

“Schools will start to integrate and then very quickly lose that integration because we know that white parents are attracted to other white parents … When you talk about a ‘bad’ school, we can close our eyes and we know what color the kids are in those seats,” said Hannah-Jones on a recent panel. “We have to disentangle, somehow, 400 years of racial history and what automatically comes into well-meaning white folks’ minds when they think about a good school.”




  1. The outpouring of support for Ruby Bridges school at last night’s (Tues, Sept. 13) was well organized, thoughtful and above all inspiring. The Ruby Bridges community has clearly shown the Alameda Unified School District how to turn lemons into lemonade – that is equal funding and staffing policies that generate despair, division and bitterness into equitable funding and staffing policies that lift the entire community. Now will the AUSD board follow through?

    William (Bill) Smith
    Student Teacher, Ruby Bridges School

    Comment by William Smith — September 14, 2016 @ 7:06 am

  2. This doesn’t mean African American children can’t have an exceptional educational experience just because they don’t get to attend the “best” schools in the neighborhood.

    Some of the most respected educational institutions in our country are historic black colleges. Colleges such as Howard University, Spellman, Morehouse, Hampton University, Tuskegee University, to name a few have produced many engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, and political leaders, etc.

    These schools offer a rich and powerful experience that often aren’t experienced in other schools. And many of these schools offer great scholarship programs. My daughter received a four year scholarship from Nasa to attend Spellman College.

    So my message to African American parents who are working hard to make sure their children receive the best Alameda education, continue to fight for your child — and don’t forget the historic black colleges.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 14, 2016 @ 7:32 am

  3. And one comment about segregation in our schools. This is systemic issue that challenges us in just about every American institution, not just in our educational institutions.

    The Brown vs Board ruling opened the doors to African American children, but the hardest work to be done is shouldered by the student.

    The student is often the one left with the responsibility to educate their classmates and/or their teachers who have little or no experience in the classroom with children of color. It’s hard work,
    but in my opinion the hard work is worth it!

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 14, 2016 @ 8:14 am

  4. I think here in Alameda it’s not simply a black/white issue; I remember a few years ago going to kindergarten open houses, and there were two couples– both Asian– from Bayport at the Franklin info. night, insisting quite vehemently that they were not going to send their kids to Ruby Bridges. They were clearly seeking something “high status” as the article puts it. I was somewhat put-off by my experience that night, and sent my child to our neighborhood Title 1 school, and we’re happy with our choice.

    I hope the school board listens and realizes that RB has issues unique to them, esp. with regards to Coast Guard families. AUSD can’t have a once-size-fits-all policy when it comes to diversions.

    Comment by Kristen — September 14, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  5. This is a hard problem for the school districts to try and solve on their own. It is on us. I’m sure it is no surprise that local land use and zoning laws became so prevalent after the courts integrated public schools. As culture shifts and white-flight-suburbs’ commutes become hellish and inner cities and inner ring suburbs gentrify/reintegrate, charter schools and school choice provide avenues for families w/ the means and wherewithal to run away from the schools in their diverse neighborhoods. As Kristen notes above, this is not unique to white families. High achieving 1st/2nd gen immigrants often bring their own flavor of prejudice.

    All that said, the community came through last night and it was nice to see. Pretty sure a Bayport resident came close to offering to write a check to cover the extra costs too.

    Comment by BMac — September 14, 2016 @ 9:48 am

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