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Review Debunks Desegregation Claims: Report Ignores Contradictory Research, Attacks ‘Straw Men’

Contact: 

William J. Mathis, (802) 282-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Susan Eaton, 617-216-6388, seaton@law.harvard.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/cqabxfw

 

BOULDER, CO (March 29, 2012) – A recent report that claims school desegregation has failed is based on misrepresentations of proposals that it criticizes, and it ignores an extensive body of research literature whose findings do not support the report’s conclusions, according to a new review.

The report was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Susan Eaton of Harvard Law School.  The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Eaton reviewed Our Immense Achievement Gap: Embracing Proven Remedies While Avoiding a Race-Based Recipe for Disaster, written by Katherine Kersten and published by the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis.

Eaton, in her review, finds that the report misrepresents and then criticizes recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Education, a think tank and two independent study groups, each of which recently encouraged particular voluntary efforts to reduce concentrated poverty and achieve racial and socioeconomic integration in schools and housing in Minnesota.

In building its case against the recommendations of these bodies, Eaton writes, the report sets up and attacks two straw men -- “busing” and “lawsuits” -- neither of which was recommended by the organizations.

The author relies heavily on selected research literature to make its arguments but ignores dozens of the most important peer-reviewed research studies that suggest strong relationships between racial, ethnic, economic diversity/desegregation and academic gains, Eaton finds.  The report also relies heavily on anecdotes about desegregation policies and funding-equalization efforts in several states.

While endorsing accountability-based reforms of the sort implemented in Florida, the report fails to fully explore what is actually known about the results of such policies. Investigations into the programs in Florida strongly suggest that claims of success about the state’s accountability measures and teacher-accreditation practices are often unsubstantiated or exaggerated.

In attacking the wrong targets, Eaton concludes, the report distracts rather than focuses the attention of policymakers seeking to close the achievement gap.  

 

Find Susan Eaton’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-immense-achievement-gap.

Find Our Immense Achievement Gap: Embracing Proven Remedies While Avoiding a Race-Based Recipe for Disaster, by Katherine Kersten, on the web at:
http://www.amexp.org/sites/default/files/article_pdf/Our%20Immense%20Achievement%20Gap%20WEB.pdf.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org