School Integration & Liberal Opinion
IF Nathan Glazer (p. 39) is right-and I find his arguments entirely convincing-no benefit will accrue to anyone, whether white or black, from the requirement now apparently being established by the courts that no American public school shall have a black majority and that the student population of every school shall be racially balanced as far as possible in accordance with a specified mix. It used to be thought that the academic performance of black children would improve in integrated schools, but there is, as Mr. Glazer demonstrates, no evidence to confirm this idea.
What the evidence actually suggests is that integration has little or no effect on academic performance, neither helping the blacks, as so many had hoped, nor hurting the whites, as so many had feared.
It also used to be thought that relations between the races would improve as a result of school integration, but here the evidence is if anything less encouraging than in the case of academic performance. I myself attended integrated schools as a child, and nearly ten years ago, I attempted in an essay called “My Negro Problem-and Ours” to show that such schools bore not the slightest resemblance to the rosy fantasies being scattered about in those days by the prevailing winds of liberal opinion. Liberal opinion said that sending white children and black children to school together would lead to greater mutual understanding and respect; I said that in my own experience it had led to violence and greater animosity. The studies Mr. Glazer cites of integrated schools of more recent vintage tend to prove that the experience of the integrated schools of the 30′s and 40′s was a more reliable guide to the future than the generous expectations of liberal opinion. At best relations between the races continue to remain cool in integrated schools, and often enough they are exacerbated to an intolerable, and to me altogether familiar, degree.
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