In his blog “becoming radical,” Paul Thomas, a Furman University associate professor of education, contends that the education reform movement perpetuates inequity and increases segregation. Thomas draws on the findings of the Civil Rights Project, which has done extensive research on the resegregation of schools.
While the South once led the nation in integrating its schools, it’s now become a leader in the resegregation of America’s classrooms, largely as a result of housing trends.
In 1960, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Only 7.8 percent of the Negro students in the South are attending integrated schools this year, a hundred years after our emancipation from slavery. At this pace it will take 92 more years to integrate the public schools of the South.”
King would likely revise his prediction dramatically upward if he observed his namesake schools in the Atlanta region, most of which are now attended by all black students. That’s because schools mirror the resegregation of neighborhoods.
Here is an excerpt of Thomas’ blog posting, but please read his full piece before commenting:
Changing standards ignores that children in poverty and children of color tend to experience test-prep courses regardless of the standards, and thus receive a reduced educational experience when compared to middle-class and affluent (and disproportionately white) students.If education reform were committed to equity, public schools would insure that all students, regardless of race or socio-economic status, would receive rich and engaging educations.
Increasing the amount of testing and the stakes associated with that testing (for both students and teachers) ignores that standardized testing remains more closely linked with the child’s home status than with the child’s learning or their teachers’ effectiveness.If education reform were committed to equity, high-stakes standardized testing and using test scores to label and rank students and teachers would be completely eliminated. Test-driven education stratifies students by race and socio-economic status, discourages teachers from seeking opportunities to work with high-needs students, and misrepresents school quality (see the historical failure of relying on the SAT, for example.)
Charter schools are not producing outcomes superior to public (or private) schools, but charter schools (such as KIPP) are stratifying (re-segregating) schools and focusing education for children of color and children from poverty more on authoritarian discipline policies and test-prep than rich experiences being experienced by their more affluent (and white) peers. If education reform were committed to equity, children of color and children from poverty would be provided public education that mirrors the education being experienced by affluent whites; instead, charter schools are segregated and “no excuses” environments designed for “other people’s children.”
Funding and expanding TFA candidates in high-poverty and high-minority schools ignores that the single greatest inequity experienced by children of color and children from poverty is being assigned un-/under-certified and inexperienced teachers. If education reform were committed to equity, education reform would abandon test-based teacher evaluations as well as supporting TFA, and instead would insure equity of teacher assignment for all students while also acknowledging the importance of experience and expertise for teachers.
Focusing on school-only reform (the tenet of “no excuses” school reform) ignores the corrosive power of poverty.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog