Our guest authors today are Kara S. Finnigan, Associate Professor at the Warner School of Education of the University of Rochester, and Jennifer Jellison Holme, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Finnigan and Holme have published several articles and briefs on the issue of school integration including articles in press in Teachers College Record and Educational Law and Policy Review as well as a research brief for the National Coalition on School Diversity. This is the first of a two-part blog series on this topic.
Imagine that you wake up one morning with a dull pain in your tooth. You take ibuprofen, apply an ice pack, and try to continue as if things are normal. But as the pain continues to grow over the next few days, you realize that deep down there is a problem – and you are reminded of this every so often when you bite down and feel a shooting pain. Eventually, you can’t take it any longer and get an x-ray at the dentist’s office, only to find out that what was originally a small problem has spread throughout the whole tooth and you need a root canal. Now you wish you hadn’t waited so long.
Why are we talking about a root canal in a blog post about education? As we thought about how to convey the way we see the situation with low-performing schools, this analogy seemed to capture our point. Most of us can relate to what happens when we overlook a problem with our teeth, and yet we don’t pay attention to what can happen when we overlook the underlying problems that affect educational systems.
In this blog post, we argue that school segregation by race and poverty is one of the underlying causes of school failure, and that it has been largely overlooked in federal and state educational policy in recent decades.