White Parents Say They Want Diverse Schools, But Will They Send Their Kids? (View) (2023)

Katherine Hayes and Cassandra Kazocha

Kathleen Hayes, a white Chicago public school parent and former high school teacher, has worked in educational research and political organizing. For 20 years, she has been writing a book on parenting behavior and school choice on Chicago's North Side. Cassandra Kaczocha, black mother of two Chicago public school students, is an advocate for public education. She is passionate about racial equity and ensuring all children receive a quality education in our public schools.

It is well known that in the decades following World War II, tens of thousands of white families left inner cities, in part to avoid schools where white children were not in the majority. In recent years, some families have bucked that trend, returning to gentrifying neighborhoods and turning their attention to the racially integrated schools that previous generations of whites had fled. Some of these parents want integration because they value racial diversity. base mobile imageintegration schoolWealthy white parents are encouraged to send their children to schools where children of color are mostly "conscious, happy and humble." But this group and others recognize that white parents often seek integration not because it benefits society as a whole but, in the words of integrated schools, "primarily for the benefit of our own children."

We think comprehensive schools are right. As research and our personal experiences have shown, white parental efforts to integrate in schools often involve racial stereotyping and opportunity hoarding. A common pattern is for white parents to come together and rebuild local schools where they see fit for their children. They never text their kids if they're not sure they can make it.

Leverage the Cassandra experience. When her children attended a Chicago public school where 86 percent of the students were people of color (as did her own children), she heard negative feedback about the school from nearby parents. She and other parents formed a travel committee and shared positive stories about the elementary school on online parent groups and on school ranking websites.

More parents, some of them white, started showing up on school trips. Many parents laughed at the banners promoting the school's social and emotional excellence. But Cassandra noticed that the white parents' smiles faded when tour groups entered classrooms where there were more brown-skinned children than white-skinned children. Parents of color saw the social justice issues reflected in the student work presented in the classroom and started asking about the class. But the problem for white parents has shifted dramatically from SEL and educational values ​​to resources. “Does every student have an iPad? What languages ​​in the world are students learning here?

Cassandra doesn't see any white parents from field trips every year during the school holidays. The school's white student enrollment continues to hold steady at around 14 percent.

Most white parents try to deny that they employ anti-Black stereotypes when considering schools for their children. When they reject schools that are predominantly black and brown, they blame test scores or think the school is "not a good fit." buttestsuggest that anti-Black stereotypes played a significant role in these decisions. Sociologist Shani Evans concluded: “Some parents who seek diversity not only make choices that inadvertently reproduce segregation and racial inequality.” When referring to long-standing stereotypes of black children and families as threatening, violent, and dysfunctional when attending schools dominated bythey avoidSchools with high proportions of black and Hispanic students.

Instead, white parents looking for racially diverse schools were drawn to what the noted journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones called "orchestrated diversity," that is, a group of students of color in a school White schools, so the kids can learn more about their racial peers. Often, white parents follow other white parents in choosing predominantly white schools because they believe they are the best schools and will give their children an edge in college and the workplace. Catherine recalls why she moved to a particular neighborhood in Chicago when her children were approaching school age: Many of her white friends and school-age children lived there. She figured that if they were happy with the nearby schools, that would be enough for her kids.

White parents tend to hold white ideas about what their kids need to succeed and use their status privilege to impose those ideas on schools.

Some advocates of white school integration see politics as a tool to both combat these stereotypes and reduce school segregation in gentrifying cities. like last timehe arguedDuring Education Week, these advocates argue, policymakers should stop assuming that white parents want selective enrollment and options for gifted children and instead develop policies that expand other long-term effective school inclusion options.

However, inappropriate policies are not of interest when considering the interpersonal factors that contribute to maintaining school segregation. Nor can we ignore the harm done to children of colornew power structureWhite parents often create in inclusive schools. Prioritization policies relieve white parents of the responsibility to acknowledge and set aside racial issues that obscure their school decisions. Additionally, it provides a reason for white parents to build solidarity with parents of color.

Without this solidarity, many white proponents of school integration still see racial diversity as a blessing to their children and think schools of color will embrace it. But some black parents homeschool their children, or, like Cassandra, choose mostly black schools to avoid anti-blackness from synthetic spaces. White parents who think their children and their ideas are welcome in schools with a majority of students of color are not only ignoring the fact that Black parents support social control of neighborhood schools in a system that has marginalized them and their children for decades Nor do they see the potentially harmful consequences of their presence in schools of color.

White parents tend to hold white ideas about what their kids need to succeed and use their status privilege to impose those ideas on schools.testprove that these impositions lead toPrivileged (upper middle class, mostly white) parentsAccumulating power and opportunity in their children’s schools further marginalizes the families who are the first to enter and may seek refuge from the racial discrimination they and their children experience outside the school’s walls.

We do not deny the benefits of an inclusive education that focuses on those marginalized by public schools. When considering whether and how to integrate public schools, policymakers must focus on the educational goals of Black and brown parents and do so consciously, not in the paternalistic way that previous policies have reflected. White parents cannot be arbiters of the necessity or benefits of school integration until politicians develop the political will to do so. Instead, white parents can work to build real solidarity with parents of color so they can work together to advance school policies that ensure the well-being of Black and brown children and families.

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