The New Way to Integrate: By Income, Not Race. (Notebook: Usable Education Information from Schools, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)
Angelo, Jean Marie, District Administration
School districts in Cambridge, Mass., and LaCrosse, Wis., are integrating. But the factor these districts will use to integrate is not race, but income.
Administrators in both districts say socioeconomic status--and not race--should be the basis of school integration programs. Administrators in San Francisco are considering the same approach to integration, according to several reports.
Research conducted in Cambridge reveals that a school's overall academic achievement is affected by students' socioeconomic backgrounds. Student achievement suffers in schools that enroll a high percentage of those receiving free or reduced lunch, according to Lenore Prueser, director of the Cambridge school district's Family Resource Center.
In Cambridge, 41 percent of all students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, yet the student bodies in some schools had about two of every three children coming from poorer households. Cambridge administrators find that students from lower socioeconomic levels perform better when the student body is mixed.
Administrators in LaCrosse, Wis., have come to the same conclusion, although Superintendent Thomas Downs admits that parents with high incomes have voiced objections to the latest phase in his plan to economically integrate the district. "There are political concerns," he says. "High income parents fear that bringing balance to the classroom will bring other problems. They fear that low-income students are off-task learners who will bring home-problems to school. …