School segregation by race is extreme and increasing, despite the 1954 Brown decision. And, for many known reasons, these racial patterns clearly disadvantage blacks, Latinos, and other racial minorities. Today’s courts are hostile to racially-based remedies and there is considerable resistance among the majority white population to forced integration. And so we are left with a dilemma: Do we nonetheless keep pushing for racial integration, as we did in the 60s and 70s? Do we instead try to make separate truly equal? Do we just throw up our hands? Are there other means towards that same end? Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation proposes class-based integration steps as an alternative that can achieve the goal of racial integration. Gary Orfield of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a long-time fighter for integrated schools, takes issue with at least some of Kahlenberg’s premises and proposals. We’d be happy to hear from other P&R readers on this vital issue. -CH
The lead article in the Sept/Oct P&R by Richard D. Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation, presented an approach to racial integration of schools via a socioeconomic route. Gary Orfield, co-director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, provided a critical commentary. Given the realistic pessimism about race-based remedies, it is worth exploring other avenues. For this issue, we asked a number of additional wiseheads and activists on race and education to react to Kahlenberg’s idea. PRRAC Board members Theodore Shaw, john powell, Thomas Henderson and S.M. Miller, along with policy/media consultant Makani Themba, provide their comments, and the Symposium concludes with Kahlenberg’s comments on the comments.