May 30, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Philip Weiss:
Yesterday’s New York Times had an inspiring letters page, in which several readers, including three professors and a student, argued for greater racial integration of our public schools for the “civic, moral and personal” improvement of our citizens. No counter-opinion was published. I find this thrilling because the Times is staking out a very progressive position, a commitment to social egalitarianism. Excerpts:
school integration has done more to improve the life chances of poor and minority children than other known interventions. [James Liebman]
According to the [Obama] guidelines, “racially diverse schools provide incalculable educational and civic benefits by promoting cross-racial understanding, breaking down racial and other stereotypes, and eliminating bias and prejudice.” These civic purposes of education have all but disappeared in contemporary education reform. [Lawrence Blum]
By adulthood, stereotypes are entrenched. The time to intervene is childhood, and what better and more natural way to do it than to attend schools with children from different racial and ethnic backgrounds? [Melanie Killen]
The next time you wonder at why our youth are entitled, indifferent and apathetic, consider the very bedrock of citizenship — our public schools — and the false sense of superiority they offer. [Joy Ravona]
The Times letters are of a piece with Jerry Slater’s argument against Peter Beinart‘s push for Jewish day schools– Slater says that segregating young American Jews in religious schools breeds political intolerance, even if it does encourage Jewish continuity. This is a liberal crisis; and in this context, Beinart is a conservative. Integrationist Jews were opposed to Zionism in Europe as a separatist ideology; and that spirit persists to this day. This raises the same issue I touched on yesterday: the extent to which Zionism makes Americans conservative.