A great discussion was started at Fireside Learning, a social network of partners conversating on education about a post written by Richard Kahlenburg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, on the Obama Administration’s stance on socioeconomic integration of schools, which is a hot button issue for school officials in the CPS system. To view Kahlenbur’s post click here.
While the Obama Administration has respectfully supported for charter schools, higher education standards, and better compensation for well-performing educators, representatives from the Dept. of Education have failed to respond conclusively on this particular issue.
According to the discussion, although the U.S. Supreme Court has restricted the use of race in student assignment plans, a growing number of districts – roughly 70 – integrate primarily by socioeconomic status, a perfectly legal practice. Louisville, Kentucky, which had its racial integration policy struck down by the Supreme Court, but now integrates students primarily on the basis of socioeconomic status, was represented at the conference by student assignment executive director Pat Todd. Todd brought down the house when she said that in dealing with real estate agents and other skeptics, it would be helpful if Washington were affirming the importance of integrated schools, rather than implying that all poor kids need are charters and pay for performance (source).
In another interview with the Catalyst, Kahlenburg explains how many districts use eligiability for free and reduced-rice lunch as a dividing line between low-income and middle-class students, but about 85% of students in the Chicago Public Schools are eligible for free and reduced lunches. Therefore, integrating based on socioeconomic measures, (income, level of adult education, single parent households, homeownership rates, and the # of non-English speaking households), wouldn’t truly reflect the cross-section of CPS students.
Kahlenburg does state however, that Chicago’s four-tiered integration plan is “educationally sound, but down the line, Chicago may want to consider programs that break down the barriers between the city and the suburbs. That way, you increase the proportion of students who can attend economically integrated schools”.
Read the plan by following the link above and decide for yourselves. Is the Chicago’s CPS plan for socioeconomic integration doable? Comment by joining the discussion on Fireside.