NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

DOES DESEGREGATON MATTER?

October 3, 2005

Since 1968, public schools have become increasingly segregated, says Jonathan Kozol, in the book, "The Shame of the Nation." But Nathan Glazer of Harvard University notes that the book fails to answer whether greater integration would improve education.

Kozol reveals what Gary Orfield of the Harvard Graduate School of Education discovered in his research -- the proportion of black students in majority white schools has decreased since 1968. But Kozol's emphasis on the importance of integration overlooks other societal trends:

  • Many court-ordered desegregation programs have been abandoned, says Glazer, since the number of white students in many large city school districts has declined.
  • Parents in some school districts want to exclude blacks and Hispanics who travel long distances in order to make room for children to attend schools in their own neighborhood.

One might infer from Kozol that indifference to the education of poor and minorities is what is refueling segregation, but Glazer notes that other values may account for resegregation, such as the value of the neighborhood school and the value of local control.

Lastly, Kozol laments the disparity in education expenditures among schools, and points out that New York City spent only $11,627 per child in 2002-2003, compared to $22,311 spent in Manhasset. But research on standard tests questions whether increasing school expenditures produce better results, says Glazer.

In general, Kozol's book fails to answer questions as to the causes of segregation, and whether greater integration will really make a difference.

Source: Nathan Glazer, "Separate and Unequal," New York Times Book Review on September 25, 2005, of Jonathan Kozol, "The Shame of the Nation," Crown Publishers, September 13, 2005.

For text (subscription required):

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/books/review/25glazer.html

 

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