In a recent ruling, California’s Attorney General has rightly condemned the Sausalito Marin City School District for “knowingly and intentionally” segregating its schools, calling its actions “warped” and “morally bankrupt.” What comes next could offer lessons for schools everywhere.
Integration has been an especially hot topic since Kamala Harris and Joe Biden faced off at the recent debates, but the fact is that America’s schools are more segregated than when Harris started kindergarten 50 years ago. Sausalito Marin City presented an egregious case – the district populated a school almost exclusively with students of color and then starved it of funds. Meanwhile, a longstanding highly diverse charter school – highly diverse economically and racially – provided got students far better staffing and course offerings.
What’s interesting is that now, the two schools will work together to desegregate the district school. It’s an effort that heralds something we’re seeing nationally.
Evidence demonstrates that economically and racially diverse schools offer major benefits to low-income students and students of color, while at least doing no harm to — and possibly helping — white and more affluent students. Public debate has suggested charter schools — independently operated public schools — advance segregation; the evidence undermines that claim. Through our coalition, more than 100 charter schools throughout the country are establishing “intentionally diverse” schools — not just places that enroll students of different backgrounds, but schools that are the truly inclusive communities so many Americans hunger for.
Perhaps, from the ashes of the “wicked” scheme in Sausalito Marin City, might arise a vision of how charter and district schools work together to serve all students better. It’s not just one tiny district in Northern California that needs that.