Race can get confusing

Liam Julian

Bob Herbert writes about race and schools in today's New York Times, specifically, about how ?poor black and Hispanic public school students? will never receive decent educations until the ?toxic concentrations of poverty? that exist in their schools are dispersed. But it is the students themselves who, together, form such ?toxic concentrations,? and thus it is the students themselves who must be dispersed. This is only sensible, writes Herbert, because ?the best teachers? won't teach in ?toxic? settings, where ?expectations regarding student achievement are frequently much lower, and there are lower levels of parental involvement.? Send the black and brown kids to schools with white and yellow ones, or bring the yellow and white ones to the places where the black and brown ones spend their days, Herbert writes, and the black and brown pupils will absolutely learn more and become better people. But unfortunately, he continues, ?despite all the babble about a postracial America,? such racial shuffling of students ?has been off the table for a long time.? Herbert is mixed up, because it is precisely in a ?postracial? society that race-based school assignments would be ?off the table.? If the hypothetical society in question is ?postracial? it cannot obsess over or even consider race in school-zoning questions.

?Liam Julian, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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