Review Debunks Desegregation Claims
Center for the American Experiment report ignores contradictory research
EAST LANSING, Mich (March 29, 2012) – A recent report from the Center for the American Experiment in Minneapolis claims school desegregation has failed. A new review of the report found that it misrepresented proposals criticized and ignored an extensive body of research literature whose findings did not support the report's conclusions.
The report, Our Immense Achievement Gap: Embracing Proven Remedies While Avoiding a Race-Based Recipe for Disaster, written by Katherine Kersten, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Susan Eaton, Research Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at Harvard University. The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Eaton, in her review, found that the report misrepresented and then criticized 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 Great Lakes Center website at:
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part from funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review is also available on the National Education Policy Center website at:
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.