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Education, Integration and Equality: The Way to Make America Great Education, Integration and Equality: The Way to Make America Great

- (Huffington) - 1 years, 6 months ago...

Our nation, it seems, has descended into ugliness. Presidential debates are more like barroom brawls. The comments sections of most news sites are a cesspool of hatred, name-calling and fear. When President Barack Obama exuberantly calls out, "Let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all!" his "opponents" seem unable to find even enough goodwill to applaud that. (How one can be opposed to curing cancer is beyond me.) The open-air hostility snaking through the country seems to fly in the face of what America stands for. Or does it? Some would venture that it's actually what Americans do best. Writing for Salon, author Chauncey DeVega said, "Donald Trump's racism, nativism, and bigotry are as American as apple pie." With that line, the picture DeVega paints is bleak; but unfortunately, it has historical merits. If you consider the annihilation of Native Americans, the enslavement and oppression of African peoples, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow, redlining, mandatory minimums - I could go on and on - it's easy to see where he's going with that sentiment. But when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched, preached and toiled during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, he knew the sordid history of this country - and was deeply mired in its bigoted present - and yet, he still imagined that things could be different. He saw the ugliness but believed in the beauty. What would Dr. King think about our country today? I think he still would have hope. And here's why: Despite the bad news that permeates about failing schools, underperforming students, unqualified teachers and apathetic communities, education still is working to improve the lives of children across the country. Data from the Council of Great City Schools continues to suggest an upward trending in student test scores in America's largest urban school districts. Additionally, data from the Department of Education indicates graduation rates have reached unprecedented levels -- some 82 percent of students are graduating. Headlines indicate otherwise, but it is true: Education is making a difference. Further, scientific research tells us that an integrated education - one where students and teachers alike come from varied racial and socio-economic backgrounds - works even better. In fact, in our work with the West Metro Education Program, a desegregation initiative with Minneapolis Public Schools, the students who were bussed to suburban schools made three times the progress in both reading and math when compared with similar students who were not a part of the bussing program. Desegregated districts such as Eden Prairie, Minn., have reduced the "achievement gap" by nearly 60 percent, using culturally responsive strategies, as well as those pedagogies guided by neuroscience. Districts such as Robbinsdale, Minn., and urban schools in districts such as San Francisco, New York City and Bridg...

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