Start Time: 43:53
End Time: 50:34
Big, progressive change comes to the district education system covered in this podcast. It's an unexpected ending, and a happy one...right? As Chana speaks one last time with the organizers behind the overhauled admissions process, a lingering question remains: are white interests still paramount?
Publish Date: Feb 16, 2021
BIG, progressive change comes to the district education system covered in this podcast. It's an unexpected ending, and a happy one...right? As Chana speaks one last time with the organizers behind the overhauled admissions process, a lingering question remains: are white interests still paramount? When all is said and done, what does it take from nice white parents to make sure our most vulnerable populations are not left behind when it comes to education equality/equity?
something actually changed here. Instead of trying to solve their individual problems, the women from PMS focused all of their attention on the system that created those problems and on solutions that would benefit all kids. These women surprised me. Miriam surprised me. By the time I got to the end of my interview with her, I was listing other places where attempts that desegregation had failed, scrolling through my pessimism. But here was Miriam sitting across from me, and her efforts hadn't failed, at least not yet. Let's get back to you, though, because you I feel like you are meeting my deep cynicism with a lot of optimistic this'll do with my free time. I floated the notion with Miriam that maybe she created a model other white parents could follow in other district's other cities. But Miriam Bubbly can do. Miriam Nunberg was suddenly all well. This was a unique set of circumstances, and I don't know if it's that easy to replicate, she said. It really helped that In this case. The system was clearly no longer working for advantaged parents either. So had it not become so competitive to get into the Big Three, do you think there would be an integration process? I don't know. I don't I mean, I don't think just in sort of telling my own story for how I came to it, I don't think I would have seen an opening, because there isn't that also that that problem that everybody faces. Poor families Families of color were shut out of the top schools in District 15 for decades, but this was not a problem for advantage, parents Mary Miss saying It's on Lee One white and privileged families began to be shut out to that. They became open to change. A legal scholar and civil rights advocate named Derrick Bell came up with this term interest convergence. He believed that the only times we ever see an expansion of rights for black Americans is when white Americans benefit when interest converge. White Americans don't see something in it for themselves. Nothing changes I'd wanted so badly to find something instructive in this one example where things actually changed something. But Miriam kept saying this just might not work in other situations. So there's like no larger take away about the possibility of integration. I mean, I like to think there is. I would love it if we started this tidal wave. Um, and I think that we've made it acceptable. We've brought it, you know, this into the consciousness of this district for sure. But, like, will it necessarily will people who've bought into school zones are they going to give that up willingly? I don't know. I like to think that people are when you present this story to them in a powerful enough way that they're going to be responsive. But I do think you have to. They have to. If they're giving something up, they have to benefit from something. I like to think that if you present the story to them in a way that has, um, effect as well. Yeah, yeah, I think I was wanting something from Miriam that depending on who you are, you may be wanting from me right now how to guide, But what Miriam is saying is the Onley reason why parents supported the change in District 13 is because things have gotten so intense and so competitive that even the most advantage people were losing. How do you replicate that? Wait. Children are the minority in district 15 and in New York City, public schools and in American public schools. What about the interest of all the other parents who are not white or not advantaged? What about parents like Laura Espinosa, who did not especially care about diversity but care deeply about smaller class sizes? How does that happen? What about parents whose primary concern is better reading instruction or better special ed services or sports programs or functioning air conditioning in their kids classrooms? How come we have equitable schools if our public institutions will Onley respond to these demands if they happen to align with the interests of white parents? When Derrick Bell coined the term interest convergence, what's interesting to me is he pointed to Brown versus Board of Education. He argued the unanimous ruling was possible because the government saw segregation as harming America's interests abroad. The country was trying to fight communism and sell democracy, liberty and justice for all. But the whole segregation thing was making us look bad. In some ways. I think this is what happened with Miriam. Miriam began with a material interest in getting your kid into a good school, but then she developed a new self interest. She didn't wanna be complicit in segregation. She felt compromised by a system that made her into someone she did not want to be. I recognize that feeling its shape. E think we should listen to that shame because what it's telling us is that we can't have it both ways. Nice white parents can't grab every advantage for our own Children and also maintain our identities as good citizens who believe in equitable schools. Shame is telling us we have a choice. We can choose to hoard resource is and segregate ourselves and flee the moment things feel uncomfortable or we can choose to be the people we say we are. But we can't have both. We can choose to remember. The goal of public schools is not to cater only to us, to keep us happy, but to serve every child. We've never had that school system, but we could We could demand it, right? Not, But we should know it's within our power to help create it.