Integration strategies catering to white people miss the mark
While we know that the costs of racial segregation in our schools and society are harmful to all of us, an integration strategy focused on catering to white families misses the mark (“It’s not 1974 anymore, but Mass. schools are still segregated,” Editorial, April 1). While programs such as Metco (the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) are lauded for the type of socially acceptable outcomes they yield, they’ve also created real harm for students of color who have to travel great distance to communities where they need to assimilate as a way to succeed and fit in. And in places like Hartford, lawsuits that have forced integration have had unintended inequitable consequences; a magnet program meant to attract the region’s white families has left many high-quality seats unfilled, with Hartford families of color unable to access them.
How about envisioning a world in which our primary intention is to ensure that our public education system is a quality public good for all? Let’s focus on equitable school funding formulas, and on ensuring that every public school, especially those in communities of color, has culturally responsive curriculums and loving and culturally conscious educators, and centers practices of joy and liberation that our youth of color need in order to thrive — whether white families come or not.
Yes, integration is important. But our families have waited long enough.
Gislaine N. Ngounou
Vice president of strategy and programs
Nellie Mae Education Foundation
Segregated schools are a reflection of segregated communities
School segregation is a reflection of community segregation in Massachusetts, which in part is based on ignorance and ingrained racism.
And it’s not just the usual suspects, or Archie Bunker stereotypes. It’s also the liberal progressives who pride themselves on their appreciation of multiculturalism and yet segregate themselves in nearly all-white communities.
I saw something like this firsthand when I bought my first home in Malden 37 years ago. At the time, Malden was about 90 percent white. That demographic quickly started changing, and I remember having a conversation with an official on the city’s Human Rights Commission when I was editor of the local newspaper there, around 1993. She told me she was worried that the city was experiencing white flight. I told her that I wasn’t concerned, and that the outflow of people who didn’t want to stay would leave Malden a stronger, healthier city.
Malden’s population is now about 49 percent white, 23 percent Asian, 15 percent Black, and 10 percent Latino, and about 43 percent of the population is foreign-born. Both of my children attended a more diverse Malden Public Schools system and reaped the benefits of that.
You can send students of one color to communities of another color, but until more people are willing to raise their children among people of all colors, this problem won’t be solved.
Every school should be given the resources to boost its students
While reading your editorial on school integration, I noticed the line “there are simply not enough white children to go around,” which was in reference to the argument that it’s hard to integrate school systems in cities where the percentages of white students are already very low. But to me, that line was like saying schools can’t be good unless there are white children in them. How about adequately funding every school no matter the color of its students?