Integrating schools comes at a cost

Research shows that economic integration is more effective in raising academic achievement than investing more money in high-poverty schools (“The case for integrating NYC schools just got stronger,” New York Daily News, Aug. 21).  The argument is that when students from low-income families are in class with students from upper-income families they learn far more than they would anyway else.

The only trouble with that argument is that it doesn’t address the effect that low-income students have on the achievement of their classmates. I saw firsthand how harmful that effect was at the high school where I taught for 28 years. 

My high school was once one of the best academically in California. But when busing began, it slowly became no better than any other inner-city high school.  The low-income students were so far behind academically that they forced teachers to lower their standards.  The result was that parents pulled their children out and enrolled them in private and religious schools where standards were rigorously enforced.

So before accepting at face value the argument that integration is the solution to upper mobility, it would be wise to ask what the effect will be on all students – not just those bused in.

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