Time for schools to talk race, not diversity

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

As an institution, school districts tend to think talking about “diversity” is the same thing as talking about “race.”

When I call up superintendents to ask about their achievement gaps, the superintendents almost invariably shift the conversation from a white-black or white-Latino thing to a conversation about socioeconomics.

“Poverty has so much more to do with it than race,” they tell me.

Maybe.

There’s plenty of research that says the struggles of poverty — from hunger’s impact on brain development to the stress of not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night — impact student achievement.

But, even controlling for income, achievement gaps between black and white students and Hispanic and white students persist, evidenced by a recent analysis of standardized test results in Ohio. In that study, poor white kids outperformed black kids from both poor and wealthy families.

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