Friday, December 24, 2021

Reader Feedback: "Go Help a Kid"

Recently, I posted "Why I Support DEI, In One Graph". Separately, I posted "Why I Support SEL, In One Parent's Story". Reader feedback prompts me to add some things.

  1. I know this DEI graph isn't the whole story. It's just one graph.
  2. I don't have the solution. Richardson ISD's DEI policy is forcing RISD to address the problem. Maybe the solution will come out of that.
  3. Readers are smarter than I am. There was a lot of great feedback to my post.

Pam Thompson pointed out that "Segregation in schools results from segregation in housing types." This is exactly right. It's not a coincidence that some of the best schools in RISD are in some of the best neighborhoods, and vice versa. To achieve equity in schools, we should strive for desegregation of housing types in our neighborhoods.

In a private message, someone else said, "I hear stories from parents at schools like Dover (90% hispanic) who say their white kids are bullied by hispanic kids." So the problem with bullying has a racial aspect to it, and it's not always in one direction. These issues are all tangled together. Maybe fixing them all, all at once, is too big to achieve, but on the other hand, small fixes to one problem can have beneficial side effects on other problems as well.

In a private message, someone else said, "Arapaho Classical Magnet is the symbol of white flight." Don't get me started on RISD's magnet schools. One day I think they are a prudent means of dealing with overcrowding at one school and underutilization at another. The next day I think they are a means of enabling white parents to keep their children in RISD schools without forcing them to attend schools with too many of "those people." One thing I no longer believe is that magnet schools are a good way of increasing diversity in individual schools. In fact, I suspect magnet schools, overall, have the opposite effect. I find the problem intractable.

In a private message, someone else said my DEI graph needs to add a couple of other measures: percentage of single-parent households, and percentage of students by religion. Whoa. The first one could pinpoint a key factor in academic performance. School districts might not be able to directly affect the percentage of single-family households, but maybe things can be done to compensate. As for religion, I've never seen that measured at the school level, or even talked about. That might be because it's an explosive subject, but if anyone thinks there's something there that shouldn't be ignored, I'm willing to hear it.

In a private message, someone else said that I'm giving simple answers to complex problems. I make it sound like the problem is with "all the assholes" on the right hand side of that graph. My correspondent argues that the district is stuck trying to service two different missions, academics and welfare. The people who focus on academics aren't wrong, they are just missing the whole picture. He says, "This is why we desperately need SEL. To teach kids how to stay out of jail on one end, and become unselfish members of society on the other." His recommendation to all the people arguing for SEL and DEI (i.e., me)? "Voting is fine. Do it. But the real answer is to go help a kid. One at a time." I think he's on to something. Consider it my Christmas message to all of us.

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