Academics Over Integration

Published November 1, 1998

Although integrated schools continue to be desirable to African-American and white parents, an overwhelming majority of African-American parents recently surveyed say that public schools have a more important priority: Raising academic standards and achievement.

By an 80 percent to 9 percent margin, African-American parents want public schools to focus on academics over promoting integration and diversity, according to a national poll conducted by Public Agenda in collaboration with the Public Education Network.

“Too often, the schools work so hard to achieve integration that they end up neglecting their most important goal–teaching kids,” said three-quarters of black (73 percent) and white (77 percent) parents interviewed for the study, “Time To Move On: African-American and White Parents Set An Agenda for Public Schools.”

While eight in ten black and white parents agreed that integrated schools can improve race relations in America, most don’t feel that schools should make integration a high priority. That’s because more than half (51 percent) of black parents and almost three-quarters (72 percent) of white parents say integrated schools make little difference in the education children receive.

The other reason for what the report calls “the lack of ardor for integration” is that “the heavy investment of whites in finding good schools makes them cautious and tentative about upsetting the applecart” and possibly putting that investment at risk.

For more information …

The 52-page report was published in July 1998. It is available for $10 from Public Agenda, 6 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016, 212/686-6610.