Resegregation in the South; article echoes in Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Resegregation in the South; article echoes in Arkansas

Posted By on Sun, Apr 20, 2014 at 8:37 AM

click to enlarge WORTH READING: A major examination of school resegregation by The Atlantic echoes in Arkansas.
  • WORTH READING: A major examination of school resegregation by The Atlantic echoes in Arkansas.

It's serious reading, but if the progress of civil rights and equal education interests you, this article from The Atlantic is a must. It focuses on Tuscaloosa, Ala., as an example of the resegregation of Southern schools, a trend helped immeasurably by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have hurried the end of court supervision of public school districts' desegregation.

The end of court oversight; a less vigorous U.S. Justice Department; district gerrymandering; white flight. All the familiar elements have contributed to a new segregation in Tuscaloosa and across the South. Many white children attend schools with at least some black children. But there's been a significant rise in "apartheid" schools, virtually all-black schools where the education, if measured by results and those clustered there, is anything but equal.

I was struck how often in this article I felt like you could substitute Little Rock for Tuscaloosa in the circumstances described. There's even a Central High School, once an integration success story with shining academic achievements, now struggling mightily to survive. Little Rock Central is not at that low state yet, of course. But the forces here that aim to separate advantaged students from the less advantaged — including by charter schools and voucher ideas — inevitably will bring the same results here. Indeed, Central's continued success is a sore point the school choice crowd hopes to eliminate with a new charter high school.

Was forced desegregation a bad idea? Can't students do just as well or better in one-race settings? The research says otherwise. A striking passage from an immense article:

A 2014 study conducted by Rucker Johnson, a public-policy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found desegregation’s impact on racial equality to be deep, wide, and long-lasting. Johnson examined data on a representative sample of 8,258 American adults born between 1945 and 1968, whom he followed through 2011. He found that black Americans who attended schools integrated by court order were more likely to graduate, go on to college, and earn a degree than black Americans who attended segregated schools. They made more money: five years of integrated schooling increased the earnings of black adults by 15 percent. They were significantly less likely to spend time in jail. They were healthier.

Notably, Rucker also found that black progress did not come at the expense of white Americans—white students in integrated schools did just as well academically as those in segregated schools. Other studies have found that attending integrated schools made white students more likely to later live in integrated neighborhoods and send their own children to racially diverse schools.

This reminds me of a story that appeared while I was away. It was news that Walton Family Founation money was funding scholarships and other help for graduates of the KIPP charter school in Helena to attend the University of Arkansas. KIPP does a great job educating children from motivated families who agree to follow the rigorous program (longer school year, parental involvement, etc.). Though targeting poor, minority students, KIPP gets a built-in advantage of a self-selected student body. Make no mistake. It has done great work in sending a high percentage of its graduates to college. But college completion rates have not matched initial enrollment. Indeed, reporting on renewal rates on Arkansas lottery scholarships from state Higher Education Department statistics, I noted not long ago that a greater percentage of state scholarship recipients from Barton, Marvell and Helena-West Helena since 2010 had retained scholarships than the number from KIPP who received them. KIPP draws students from those districts and they are often portrayed as educational backwaters from which KIPP students escape.

You might ask why the Waltons don't send some help to the students going to college from the Helena-West Helena school district, every bit as likely to be economically stressed as those from its competitor KIPP, perhaps moreso. The answer is simple. The Waltons continue to put their thumbs on the scale for their  "choice" agenda. They want to improve the college completion numbers for KIPP, not help Helena-West Helena.

It's another example of who runs the UA these days. The Waltons' big $300 million gift to UA was conditioned on setting up an education reform outfit, further subsidized by more Walton money in endowments for the faculty. You have to look hard for work from that unit that doesn't favor charter schools over conventional public school districts, particularly those with strong teacher unions. So it's hardly surprising the UA has set aside a pot of money for KIPP students, rather than for Barton, Marvell, Helena-West Helena or, god forbid, Little Rock. In Little Rock, the Walton money is supporting establishment of a West Little Rock charter middle school to cream still more economically advantaged students from the Little Rock School District, now safe from any court oversight. In time, we'll undoubtedly receive UA research findings that a school of middle- to upper-income students from west Little Rock has higher scores than those in apartheid middle schools in the inner city. Maybe Atlantic could write an article about it someday.

Related subject: Sen. Johnny Key's effective work for Walton-financed choice initiatives such as a huge increase in state payments to home schoolers, along with his benevolent oversight of UA money matters, contribute to my belief that Chancellor David Gearhart's choice of Key to be the UA's new lobbyist is a mere formality. Key was a leader, too, in the Walton-backed legislative effort to end racial barriers to public school district transfers in Arkansas. In time, this law will inevitably create apartheid schools in several places in Arkansas.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • One dead in shooting at Buffalo National River

    KTHV reports a man was fatally shot Saturday at the Buffalo National River in Searcy County in what is being called an officer-involved shooting. No other details at the moment.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation