To the Editor:
I agree with certain points about school integration expressed by Rafiq R. Kalam Id-Din II in his recent Commentary (“,” May 10, 2017).
I wholeheartedly endorse the importance of black students’ having more black teachers. A school staff that reflects the students it serves clearly illustrates to our children what can be possible for them. I also strongly believe that racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity benefits all students. That some charters with highly segregated student bodies perform well is not evidence that integration is not important. On the contrary, research has shown that academic gains are associated with racial and economic integration.
I would further argue that schools with integrated student bodies have broader positive impacts beyond growth in literacy and numeracy. A diverse school population also encourages students to think in terms of “we,” instead of “us” and “them.” It contributes to shaping tolerant adults and citizens. Given the current state of politics, exposing children to differences, talking about those differences, and creating a safe space in which to discuss them is vital.
The Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, which I lead, is a growing national organization of over 100 diverse-by-design charter schools that represent successful school-integration models. Members of the coalition believe that it is possible to address inequity, increase achievement, and broaden educational opportunities without laying integration aside.
I commend Kalam Id-Din II for his charter school’s achievement gains, but we believe that when more teachers of color teach in integrated schools, they contribute to better student outcomes.
Diverse Charter Schools Coalition
A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 2017 edition of Education Week as Teachers of Color Contribute to Better Student Outcomes