Why School Integration is Important

Social science research and experiences of school districts suggest that students—white and nonwhite students alike—benefit from being in racially diverse schools and classrooms (Berends & Penaloza, 2010; Brief for 533 Social Scientists, 2006). They develop dispositions and skills that will help them learn from and work with people who are different from themselves. These proficiencies have social, economic and political benefits for individuals and for society in our increasingly diverse nation. Research also shows that school integration has a positive effect on the academic performance of students of color, with no negative effects on white students.

It should be noted that few studies of integration have focused on schools that are as diverse as are many schools today. And, of course, the effects of integrated settings depend on what goes on in these settings. Are teachers prepared to deal with increased diversity? Are efforts made to place students in integrated learning environments within the school and in after school activities? Do all students have access to rigorous curricula and are they held to high standards?

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