In 1977—please don’t do the math!—I climbed aboard a school bus headed for a newly integrated school, part of an ambitious and court-ordered school desegregation experiment in Springfield, Illinois. In the latest episode, I explore what did and didn’t happen in Springfield, and why our vision of what’s possible today seems so much smaller than it did four decades ago. Complete transcript available here.
And in our special extended play version, available to our Patreon subscribers, we talk about why doing something about segregation will require re-thinking rigid metrics of school quality. To get access to extended episodes, reading lists and more, just click on this little button!
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In episode #44, sociologist Carla Shedd steps into the Have You Heard studio to talk about the complex interplay between school choice, segregation and gentrification in the unequal city she calls home: New York. You may remember Shedd from a previous appearance on this page. I interviewed her a few years back about her book Unequal City about Chicago. And if you’re a fan of Have You Heard and want to help us keep the podcast going, we’ve got a Patreon page now where you can do just that!
Education reform is often referred to as the *civil rights issue of our time.* But as Noliwe Rooks, author of the new book Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education, tells Have You Heard, today’s reformers are the latest in a lengthy tradition of profiting from an unequal education system. Rooks coined the term *segrenomics* to describe the blend of segregation and economics that dates back to the earliest days of public education. Today *segrenomics* comes with a decidedly high-tech gloss (think, for example, the huge push to get personalized learning into urban classrooms.) But as Rooks explains, the goal of finding experimental ways of educating poor students of color, while leaving the structures of segregation and inequality intact, dates way back. One of our most ear-opening episodes yet! You can also read an edited version of the interview here.
Have You Heard sits down with Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. It’s a ground-breaking, mind-changing book, and you should read it, but in the meantime, we’ve helpfully distilled Rothstein’s 10 years of work down to 30+ minutes. He blows up the myth that our segregated cities and neighborhoods—and by extension our schools—are the product of millions of private choices. The legacy of the segregation created by federal housing policy remains with us today in the form of a stark racial wealth gap and what Rothstein describes as a “caste system.” And he has little patience for arguments that school choice is the solution to cities and neighborhoods segregated by design. “We’re not going to solve this problem by choosing schools were going to solve this problem by enforcing the neighborhood school concept in integrated neighborhoods.” Full transcript here.
Have You Heard Episode #23: The Mismeasure of Schools: Data, Real Estate and Segregation
In this episode, Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider discuss how test scores and other current metrics distort our picture of school quality, often fostering segregation in the process. What would a better set of measures include? Our intrepid hosts venture inside an urban elementary school to find out. You can read the entire transcript here, and be sure to check out Jack’s new book, which is really the star of the latest episode.