Integrating schools requires parent buy-in, says organization's founder
- A Los Angeles-based organization that encourages white and/or privileged families to enroll their children in public schools has now grown to 18 chapters nationwide, hosting online discussions and book clubs in addition to serving as a resource to those parents wondering whether their children should attend majority-non-white schools, according to CityLab, which recently interviewed Integrated Schools founder Courtney Everts Mykytyn.
- Mykytyn said she asks parents to visit at least two high-poverty schools that they otherwise would not have considered and to share their observations of positive aspects of the school with other families.
- She said it’s also important for families not to enter high-need schools with the goal of fixing “a broken school,” or advocating only for their child, but instead to think about how resources can benefit all students. “The lack of resources for students of color and low-income students is real, and we’re asking people to invest in all kids and not just their own,” Mykytyn said in the article.
Research by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles shows that schools in which white students make up only 10% or less of the student body have more than tripled in the past 25 years. “Obviously the country’s schools are experiencing a massive, multiracial transition and data suggest those changes will continue, faster in some regions than the others,” the researchers wrote.
Studies, however, have shown that attending a racially diverse school can benefit all students, with advantages including smaller achievement gaps between white students and students of color, higher SAT scores, lower dropout rates and stronger leadership skills.
In the interview, Mykytyn notes that for all of the policies aimed at integrating schools, from busing to magnet schools, the role of parents has been overlooked. “This doesn’t mean we should ignore policy,” she said, “but we need to build a constituency for that policy.”
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