I finally listened to Part II of This American Life’s two-part series on desegregation in America, and I highly recommend taking some time to listen to the series if you care about school assignment policy and diverse schools. Part I is about the benefits of integrated schools, and has some truly awful-to-hear excerpts from public comment at a Missouri school board meeting after a white-majority district learns that students from a black-majority school in a neighboring district will be coming to their community.
Part II is fascinating. It’s about Hartford, Connecticut, a majority high-poverty black/latino district, and how after a long court case, the district is trying a voluntary desegregation program. There are several important ways that the Hartford situation differs from San Francisco, and some important parallels.
In many ways we are already trying a voluntary desegregation program here in San Francisco and failing badly. Maybe the attractions of the new Willie Brown MS will help us turn that corner — building a program that clearly will attract white and asian families. Maybe. But if these programs make one thing clear, it’s that desegregation policy is not easy.
Listen to the programs (free if you stream them from the web site) and let me know what you think.