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Economic Policy Institute

School reform alone cannot substantially improve the performance of the poorest African American students. This performance problem must be addressed primarily by improving the social and economic conditions that bring too many children to school unprepared to take advantage of what schools have to offer. Integrating disadvantaged black students into schools where more privileged students predominate can narrow the black-white achievement gap, but the conventional wisdom of contemporary education policy notwithstanding, segregated schools with poorly performing students cannot be "turned around" while remaining racially isolated. The racial isolation of schools cannot be remedied without undoing the racial isolation of the neighborhoods in which they are located. This paper discusses the importance of remembering the history of racial segregation, which is a step towards confronting the problems that segregation has created and will continue to create throughout generations. Remembering and learning racial history is the foundation for an understanding that aggressive policies to desegregate metropolitan areas are not only desirable, but a constitutional obligation. [This work was presented at the Atlantic Live Conference, "Reinventing the War on Poverty," March 6, 2014, in Washington, D.C.]

Descriptors: Racial Segregation, School Segregation, Educational History, Educational Policy, Disadvantaged Environment, Neighborhood Integration, Public Policy, Residential Patterns, Racial Discrimination, Housing, Social Discrimination

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Autor: Rothstein, Richard


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