Race, Poverty and the Public Schools

Letters to the New York Times:

Re “Separate and Unequal,” by Bob Herbert (column, March 22):
In spite of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court, sadly the struggle goes on. The Department of Education reported in 2008 that 70 percent of white schoolchildren attend schools where at least 75 percent of the students are white, whereas more than half of all black children in industrial states attend schools where over 90 percent are members of minority groups. Go into any urban school and it is clear that 57 years after Brown, the schools have largely remained segregated.
Years of social science research have cited the benefits of integrated schools. In our work with the West Metro Education desegregation initiative in Minneapolis public schools, the students in grades 3 to 7 who got on the bus to attend suburban schools made three times the progress in both reading and math when compared with similar students who did not participate.
Teacher quality remains a consistent important factor. Ultimately, though, students in diverse classrooms benefit from collaboration and teamwork with those whose family circumstances are different from theirs. Eric J. Cooper
President, National Urban Alliance for Effective Education
Stamford, Conn., March 22, 2011