August 9, 2020

What if the empirical evidence about school desegregation is weaker than we’re told

Here’s a countercultural idea: what if our conventional wisdom about social science research on public school desegregation is wrong?

Maybe not wrong per se, but less important than we think?

I know, crazy, right?


I’m reading through documents in Minnesota’s Cruz-Guzman case, a union-funded attack on culturally-affirming charter schools that seeks to punish charters when they fail to attract white families.

Out of all the boring documents I’ve seen, the one below stand out. It’s out of place with everything I’ve studied, heard, and recited as known fact about racial diversity in schools in the past (back when I was an integration champion). It offers an academic attempt to unseat the conventional wisdom that the benefits of desegregation are settled and unquestionable.

According to David Armor, a researcher who gave testimony in the case, the evidence is what Matt Barnum always says the evidence is: mixed. Very mixed. In fact, there are wide variations in the size of effects which cast questions on the effective of desegregation plans.

Additionally, much of the research integrationists use to make their cases today were done decades ago with small populations.

It’s a great read if you want your ideas about desegregation social science tested.

See for yourself:

Testimony of David Armor by Citizen Stewart on Scribd
Additional Reading:

Twenty-First Century Social Science on School Racial Diversity and Educational Outcomes, by Roslyn A. Mickelson

Race-Conscious Policies for Assigning Students to Schools: Social Science Research and the Supreme Court Cases, The National Academy of Education

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Oyez

The Benefits of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

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