Melissa Harris-Perry | February 02, 2013
>>> ridding the public schools of racial segregation was one of the original civil rights battles and yet today in most places the schools are as segregated as they were in the 1960s . many school reform activists have been pushing charter schools as a fix to inequality in education, but research finds that the charter schools are likely to be racially imbalanced. a study in north carolina found that 30% of students at the end p public schools , and 60% of chart ter schools at the end racially unbalanced schools, so when we come back to the question, and thinking of the charters and the valentine you of the charters and the value of the quality of education, shouldn't integration be one of the measures of how good a school is?
>> well, the big argument in mississippi with charters is that they would become segregation academy ps essentially, and there is a fight there to see which districts get the charters, the high performing districts or the low performing districts or all districts? i think that integration is important, but the things that mississippi are choosing to focus on are the things that will improve the academic achievement of students, so we are seeing a push for suddenly pre-k, and the charter schools are being introduced because the legislators down there believe it will improve educational opportunities for kids, and so while integration is important and crucial in public schools , i think that right now, we will see that they are focusing more on exactly what can they target to immediately improve. what is the quickest point of entry to public education ?
>> well, it is something that makes me nervous to see strange bedfell bedfellows, and you see people in louisiana who are encouraging charter systems, and vouchers and i am thinking, that you have not been on the side of educating the kids for decades and now i'm supposed to believe that you are?
>> part of the republican agenda, and the a.l.e.c. has been to shift as much public money to charter schools to private school vouchers, and you are seeing the big battles in places with red governors and red legislatures and i don't know, we have so much brain power at this table talking about it, and maybe the best contribution ki make is two great documentaries that have come to my attention and one is about hoxley, arkansas, which is a small town that voluntarily segregated for financial and moral reasons, and then on espn, they have a story about a team that deseg regated and the tension that happened there.
>> and my mom who went to brigham young university said that the mormon church changed their mind about folks when the football team started to lose.
>> she speaks the truth.
>> and chris, i wanted to come back to you, because, you know, obviously part of what you all do is that you try to address children where they are, and you nknow know, despite the injustices, and how do you on the one hand think about the broader system, and yet meet young people at the moment where they are without having to wait for a new system?
>> right. and that's the tension. that's the tension that you live in an imperfect reality, and so you have to make do with that reality. that is part of where the sunflower freedom project came from. it was taking where the kids are right now and realizing that they deserve so much better, and so much more in terms of the educational opportunity, aiopportunities, and thinking about the things that we could do as eng kay tor the educators to give them the opportunities and that is how the freedom project developed and changed over the years, but it is interesting, because we have never had a white student. there are white families that we try very hard to recruit, especially early on, but, but in a place like mississippi , it is very few shades of gray , right. so once a program or a school or a neighborhood is considered black or white , it tends to stay that way. one thing you talked about the charter schools which is interesting, and i actually don't think that integration has been at the top of the educational agenda for quite some time and probably since the 1970s , and so this is the process of resegregation that has been happening for quite some time, because we on both sides of the issues and some activists grew frustrated and resigned to the white resistance and figured, well, as dr. cobb talked about, maybe we need to just focus on the equalization, and accept segregation as the reality and focus on that. i know that --
>> try to do that and work within it. you said something they want to bring martha in for a second. you said if a neighborhood and or a school is labeled as such, and neighborhoods are a big part of the story, because they want their kids to go to school nearby, and the segregation in the country, and most brew utally in the south keeps kids from being integrated.
>> yes, and a great example of that is nickels school in biloxi, mississippi , where we are providing support for it, but the community is up in arms over the closing of the school that was a high performing school , and prize winning school , and completely rebuilt after hurricane katrina and shiny new facility, and so we will still see it --
>> it was closed?
>> it was closed on the protexturally for the reason of the declining populations after katrina meant they had to consolidate schools, and where did nthey consolidate but to the white community school . and at the center for justice, we trying to operate on three levels and just as chris in the delta is ensuring that the people have help, we are providing those individual services. children need to stay in co -- stay in school and have resources for them. that is critical. then at the district level, these strategies that are undertaken by local districts that are completely unaccountable for communities of color, and then finally at the state policy level as jackie mentioned, the strong effort to correct the imbalance and part of the two mississippis is that the poorest district has 1/480th of the local resources to fund local schools.
>> and to try to keep them all in mind at the same time, the kid kids and the families and the local and the community and the state policy levels. i would like to thank the panel here at the table. up next, i want to do some one-on-one, because i want to introduce you to rosa parks . i know you think you know her, but you don't. stay with us. n using crest pro-health