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Published in Print: September 18, 2002, as Road Map for School Integration

Road Map for School Integration

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"Divided We Fail: Coming Together Through Public School Choice," a report of the Century Foundation, makes the following recommendations:

  • Use proven incentives to lure low-income and middle-class families to integrated settings through public school choice rather than more coercive policies.
  • Integrate by socioeconomic status and reserve the "narrowly tailored" use of race for circumstances in which employing economic criteria does not promote sufficient racial diversity.
  • Use a mix of financial and legal solutions to overcome the separation of students by existing school district lines.
  • Private foundations concerned about equal educational opportunity should devote greater resources to a new generation of state constitutional litigation.
  • The federal government should make funding for charter schools contingent upon integration, and it should support magnet school funding.
  • To avoid the old integration vs. increased spending debate, take both steps at once. Invest in schools—modernizing facilities, reducing class sizes, improving teacher training—but in tandem with policies to promote integration.
  • Avoid rigid tracking, which maintains student assignments despite different rates of growth. Use ability grouping by different subjects so that a student who is fast in math but slow in reading, for instance, is placed appropriately. But use less ability grouping in other subjects, such as social studies, civics, and physical education.
  • The federal government should pay transportation costs for integration, a major political obstacle faced by local governments.

Vol. 22, Issue 3, Page 14

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