Integration in American School System

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Segregation was something brought onto society whether they agreed with it or not. Black people in particular wanted it to be abolished for more reasons than just social identity, but also education, and opportunities that were never available to them would become accessible. Going to school in district forty-nine it was normal to be exposed to a good amount of diversity. Freshman year naturally students aren’t as confident in their social identities, you end up seeing the black kids sitting with the black kids and the white kids sitting with the white kids.

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Due to the diversity at the school the students were able to relate to each other because we were all from the same area. You begin to notice after freshman year more integration because students feel more comfortable in their identities. Maybe that is only in a school district that is predominantly middle class families , in this instance segregation wasn’t necessary. Diane Ravitch and Beverly Daniel Tatum both agree on the ever-growing re-segregation and its consequences. Ravitch and Tatum observe that it is self motivated and could possibly be beneficial. America should give an option of re-segregation to close the educational gap and help minorities catch up to whites.

Beverly Daniel Tatum in “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” told the readers about “SET(student efficiency training) where one period a day the students with lower test scores were put into this program with two staff members to help them improve”(385). This is a form a segregation simply because most of these SET student were blacks or minorities. When this program was evaluated the students in fact did improve. When being around students similar to themselves it made them more comfortable and confident in their social identity. Adolescence years are vital, teenagers are trying to figure out who they want to be. When black students aren’t able to relate to other white students due to lack of diversity they feel alone and feel the need to appease the expectations of the racial “salience” given to them regarding education(Tatum,372). Segregation shouldn’t be questioned in an environment where it is uncomfortable and unrelatable for the minority group.

In “The facts about the Achievement Gap” by Diane Ravitch, “NCLB (No Child Left Behind) is mentioned just like SET was in Daniel Tatum’s article, again practicing a form of segregation which did deliver results(363). Ravitch points out that “the period in which the gap narrowed most was the 1970s and 1980s”(363). Back then when integration was still a fresh thing blacks still had a strong self identity, maybe because while being segregated they were able to relate to everyone around them. During segregation blacks were performing better because the standard was the same for all of them; they were all being introduced to the same opportunities. They also had black teachers, figures they could relate to and look up to.

Now it is common in white schools to see black kids segregate themselves to strengthen their personal identities because of the salience given to them by students unable to relate. Black kids’ identities are already assumed before they even figure out who they are themselves.Beverly Daniel Tatum and Diane Ravitch agree on many points, especially on the importance of social identity. It can determine how you believe you should perform in school, how you dress, what type of future you pursue. Both authors express the importance of not only the school environment but the social environment in the home. When black kids go to school they most likely sit in history class and learn about white history, and occasionally Martin Luther King or Malcolm X.

Most of the time parents aren’t at home giving their black kids a history lesson because isn’t that the teachers job? Ravitch and Tatum believe it to be the parent and the teachers job. Re-segregation of the school system shouldn’t necessarily need to be an option available in all districts. Possibly offering further integration into schools would benefit black students. This would have a greater impact than SET and NCLB because while being in class black kids would be learning more about their black history. These schools should still be teaching traditional history to students but should be more open to educating students on a true depiction of black history that most people don’t hear about unless it is further researched on one’s own time. It is all about self identity and relatability for young students. If further integration was to occur in the school system, even having more black teachers would help self identity. It would not only encourage the black students, but it would introduce white students to more diversity. Re-segregation would further drive everyone apart, but further integration would bring us closer together while helping close the educational gap.

Works Cited:

  1. Beverly Daniel Tatum. “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” From Inquiry to Academic Writing, edited by Stuart Greene and April Lindinsky, Bedford st. Martin’s, 2016, 385-372.
  2. Diane Ravitch. “The facts about the Achievement Gap”. From Inquiry to Academic Writing, edited by Stuart Greene and April Lindinsky, Bedford st. Martin’s, 2016, 363.

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