BDDP featured in New York Times forum on School Integration

Posted: May 22, 2012 by meghandoran in Uncategorized

How can we integrate public schools when neighborhoods have become more segregated? Is it time to bring back busing? What other options and solutions are out there for providing a quality education for all children? These are the questions the New York Times posed this week in its Room for Debate section. Along with Pedro Noguera, Michelle Rhee and others, BBDP Project Director Donna Bivens was invited to weigh in. Donna originally submitted a piece outlining some of what we learned at the National Coalition on School Diversity conference last week, but was asked to  submit a more personal narrative. We liked the original piece so thought we’d share both with you.  Click here to read the piece published in the Times and see below for the original submssion.


In Boston, we’re beginning a process to seek truth about and learn from our 1970’s “busing”/ desegregation crisis. We’re seeking to better understand what worked and what didn’t work and for whom. Wha twe’ve found is a tangled web of race and class, power and values that didn’t get—and couldn’t be—sorted out back then that continues to haunt us and pull us back today.

There are some important lessons that we can learn from earlier attempts at school integration. Here are a few things we’re exploring in Boston. First, for some integration is only one tactic of many to achieve the goal of quality education for our children. For others, integration is in and of itself a value and goal. And for still others, it is something they fear deprives them of value, meaning, control, or even community. It is important in our discussions about how to achieve integration that we are clear about why we are striving for integration, what outcomes we are seeking and how we are tending each other across our differences.

Second, school integration cannot be relied on to solve larger problems of racial and socioeconomic inequity. It cannot alone deliver equity in an increasingly inequitable nation. And if it is held to such a standard, it will always fall short.

Finally, integration cannot be simply a numbers game. To achieve integration where there is segregation we must bring systems together intentionally and with care, paying careful attention to dynamics of race, class, and power among individuals and between communities.

It is only when we openly and honestly grapple with our values, goals and visions regarding racial and economic integration and educational equity and excellence that we can achieve truly integrated school systems that produce high quality education for all.

  1. lynne fifield says:

    The originally submitted article is much better, I thought. I liked the personal story but appreciated the submitted article.

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