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Diversity: School Integration's Nagging NIMBY Problem

image from upload.wikimedia.orgWeeks later and I'm still thinking about this NYT Magazine article about the surprising integration of schools in leafy Greenwich, Connecticut.  But not in a good way.

One of the key things that the wonks and idealists who favor socioeconomically integrated schools consistely leave out in their discussions of the benefits and policy tools available is the simple, consistent, but extremely powerful factor of resistance from middle- and upper-class families who are already in place at schools they like.  

It seems to me that it's much easier -- though still quite difficult -- to persuade parents with other options to consider a new school (with a new program or in a gentrifying neighborhood) for their children than it is to persuade them to tolerate the arrival of growing numbers of low-income, minority kids in a school their children already attend.  

Given that the number of gentrifying neighborhoods is quite limited, and their "gentrifying" status is temporary, the real challenge for pro-diversity advocates and policymakers is to figure out how to persuade kids, teachers, and parents at medium-to-good schools that the arrival of a new set of kids -- and the reduced spaces for siblings and friends -- is somehow worth it, even if it's of no direct or immediate benefit to them. 

Of course, this was one of the main issues that integrationists of a previous era had to deal with, and was perhaps one of the main stumbling blocks to previous efforts.  What I don't know is whether anyone in the current era has figured out an approach or workaround for this underlying issue.   

Image via Wikemedia Commons

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Putting poor children in a better environment increases their chances of performing well; Therefore increasing the possibility of having better opportunities. I understand how integrating the schools can contribute to additional funding which can help all the students. The low income families have valid concerns about being able to give their child what they want. Ultimately their giving them everything they need.


I understand that integrating the schools with cost more, which most people don’t favor. However, the integration gives low income students the opportunity to learn at a better environment. Being around such students from that area can influence and boost their academic level to perform better. Ultimately, the focus should be on the positive side of things. Low income students deserve the same opportunities as middle class students regardless of where they come from.

If it helps the kids with their education and social skills I say go for it. Why worry about the smaller issues when it's all about the kids.

I do believe that integrated schools will cost more but if it will help the kids do better them why should we complain about it.

I feel in some ways the same as most parents feel about their children class mates. I am a this present time investing a lot of time and money in my childrens education. I would like thier peers parents to do the same thing. However; I do feel remorse of parents who want to get the kids in a better enviroment because that was me once.

I feel that not intergrating will keep a repetitive cycle with the low income students. Intergrating the schools will give children equal opportunity and possibly give hope and a better chance of a great educational experience for some students of the lower income status. I can understand the concerns of the parents who are of the middle class, but I feel that it is a bit selfish to not want to be a part of equal education for all kids. The children are the future, so all need the best education to be leaders in the world.

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