Achieving diversity in the public schools is not simply a matter of numbers: It calls for a comprehensive educational strategy that seeks the best possible outcomes for all students.
That’s the underlying message of Achieving Educational Excellence for All: A Guide to Diversity-Related Policy Strategies for School Districts, a joint report by the National School Boards Association, the College Board, and EducationCounsel, LLC. The report defines diversity, examines its history in the public schools, and offers concrete advice on such things as reaching out to diverse communities and considering diversity — legally and practically — in student assignments.
The report comes at a time when the United States is diversifying at a remarkable rate. For example, the Washington Post reported last week that the Washington, D.C., metro area recently became one of 22rd large metropolitan areas that are “majority minority.” Yet many schools in America remain largely divided along racial lines. The report said that “the average white student attends a school that is nearly 80 percent white — a considerably higher percentage than the overall public school enrollment” of whites.
At the same time, about “two of every five black or Latino students attend intensely segregated schools (in which 90-100 percent of students are minorities), up from less than one-third in 1988,” the report said.
In addition, minority students are too often clustered in low-level classes, and the academic achievement gap between whites and many minority groups remains large.
The report addresses all these critical issues.