Equity & Diversity

Scholarly Citings

June 12, 2002 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Making Friends

A report in the current issue of the American Journal of Sociology offers mixed news for educators concerned about promoting better race relations among students.

The bad news is that nearly 50 years after the era of desegregation began, American teenagers are not socializing much with peers of other races. The study’s data show that middle and high school students are, on average, twice as likely to name someone from their own race as a friend than they are to name someone from a different race.

The good news is that some school characteristics seem to add to the likelihood that students will form cross-racial friendships.

“We’ve spent enough time thinking about how to get students through the schoolhouse door. Now it’s time to start thinking about what to do with them once they get there,” said the study’s author, James Moody, a sociologist at Ohio State University in Columbus.

His analysis is based on responses from 90,000 secondary students across the country who were surveyed in 1994 as part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Adolescent Health Study.

Students were most likely to choose friends from their own races in schools considered only “moderately” diverse. That tendency decreased, however, as a school’s student enrollment became more heterogeneous. Mr. Moody said that may be because having three or four different races in a school mitigates some of the “us versus them” mentality in schools with just two races of students.

Schools that separate students by grade—middle schools or high schools with 9th grade academies—also tended to score higher on the cross- racial friendship scale. Such friendships also flourished with integrated extracurricular activities.

“If you and I are on the same team, we’ll be friends with each other regardless of race, but there is a school climate effect that happens above and beyond that,” Mr. Moody said. “The key is having students working together to produce a product cooperatively.”

—Debra Viadero dviadero@epe.org

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2002 edition of Education Week


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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

Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution
The pandemic has only made the student homelessness situation more volatile. Schools don’t have to go it alone.
5 min read
Conceptual illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity How Have the Debates Over Critical Race Theory Affected You? Share Your Story
We want to hear how new constraints on teaching about racism have affected your schools.
1 min read
Illustrations.
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Educational Equity Descends Into Educational Nihilism
Schools need to buckle down to engage and educate kids—not lower (or eliminate) expectations in the name of “equity.”
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty