Friday, February 9, 2018
On Wednesday, The Century Foundation hosted a lively debate on school integration between Professor Sheryll Cashin (Georgetown University) and Dr. Howard Fuller (Marquette University). Former Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. moderated the debate. Both participants were sympathetic to the other's position at times. Fuller conceded the value of integration and Cashin conceded the indirect negative consequences that can occur when integration is not implemented properly. But sharp disagreements emerged as well.
Fuller charged that African American children need better educational opportunities now, not in some pie-in-the-sky integrated world that does not appear to be on his way. Thus, he expressed outrage and disbelief that integrationists attack the work of charter schools that are coming into minority communities to expand opportunity. If those are good schools, he said we should not care that they are segregated. Critiques of those schools, he argued, are premised on black inferiority.
Cashin responded that no one is seriously attempting to address resource inequity either. Our schools are segregated and unequal. She emphasized, however, that there is a well-educated white middle class constituency that supports and seeks out integrated environments because it understands the value. And fostering those movements and implementing the programs they call for does not require huge expenditures of money. In other words, integration may be far more plausible and cheaper than most assume.
John King also did a great job interjecting sharp questions to both participants. You can watch the whole debate here.