Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

High Court Ruling Prompts Reflections on Integration

August 14, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Reading “The Integration Decision” (Commentary, July 18, 2007) prompted me to share my experiences teaching math at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, the city’s original voluntarily integrated magnet school. Founded in the late 1970s, it was deemed a National Blue Ribbon School in the 1990s. Fortunately for me, it needed a white teacher for racial balance when I joined the faculty in 1989.

Returning to the public schools after a decade teaching in a private school posed challenges. My teaching load increased to nearly 40 students in each of five classes and featured a broad spectrum of attitudes, behaviors, and math skills. I welcomed the ethnic diversity: Both my regular and honors-level algebra classes were a mixture of black, Hispanic, and white students, along with recent immigrants from Russia, Asia, and Central America. This was the voluntary integration for which the school was founded.

But oddities seemed to contradict this admirable goal. The school created race-based clubs—Young Black Scholars, Young Hispanic Scholars, Young Asian Scholars. Each encouraged excellence by ethnicity and sponsored special school events. There was nothing comparable for white students. The well-funded gifted program required teachers to refer students for evaluation. We were advised not to send too many white kids, so racial balance could be achieved.

The school provided academically enriched classes, but not all students were willing participants. For some bright and personable minority students, acting out in class was cool, while “acting white” by cooperating with teachers was not. One parent whom I phoned to discuss his son’s antics said, “Listen, lady, the boy’s hormones are raging, and there’s nothing I can do.” When I urged students to take college-prep courses seriously, some told me not to worry, as they would get into college because they were black. Others asked why I cared what they did.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education will affect schools using race-based admissions policies. But there are also powerful factors that affect students’ success in integrated schools, and which deserve serious study.

Betty Raskoff Kazmin

Medford, Ore.

A version of this article appeared in the August 15, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 18, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
Education In Their Own Words Masking, Miscarriages, and Mental Health: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our reporters share the stories they wrote that rose above the fray—and why.
5 min read
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Allison V. Smith for Education Week