Karina’s Web Project Proposal

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For my web project, I will investigate voluntary versus mandatory efforts to desegregate schools. The Sheff v. O’Neill case ruled that Hartford students were not receiving a quality education because of de facto segregation that kept students of color in the city and White students resided in Hartford suburbs. Since the ruling, several attempts have been made to desegregate schools. The Sheff case allowed students of color to go to schools in the suburbs and outside of the district. The Sheff case also resulted in the creation of multiple magnet and theme schools in order to attract students from the suburbs. Unfortunately, these attempts have not created much change in the racial composition of schools. The majority of Hartford students remain in segregated schools.

After reading the Sheff v. O’Neill stipulation with remedies to the segregation problem, I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on “voluntary” when discussing desegregation efforts. Years have passed since the complaint by Sheff plaintiffs was filed, and yet, schools continue to be segregated. After our class conversation with Phil Tegeler who strongly believed that the goal of desegregating schools by 2013 would not be met, I couldn’t help but wonder if voluntary is enough? Should the remedy to desegregate schools become mandatory? Should schools and families be forced to participate in the desegregation process? My project will attempt to understand why the Sheff case has chosen to make its desegregation remedy a voluntary one. I plan on weighing the benefits and risks of both voluntary and mandatory methods of solving de facto segregation in Hartford. Hartford students continue to be segregated from suburban White students and are not receiving an equal and integrated education that the Sheff v. O’Neill as well as the Brown v. Board of Education case had desired for all students. This web project is intended for those interested in the topic of desegregating schools and those interested in education reform. I think that the issue of voluntary versus mandatory desegregation should be discussed in order to understand the benefits and risks of mandating change versus making change voluntary.

Below are articles I plan on reading to further my understanding of the voluntary v. mandatory debate.

Symlie, Mark A. “Reducing Racial Isolation in Large School District: The Comparative Effectiveness of Mandatory and Voluntary Desegregation Strategies.” Urban Education 17.4 (1983): 27. SAGE. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

Ross, J. “Effectiveness of Alternative Desegregation Strategies: The Issue of Voluntary Versus Mandatory Policies in Los Angeles.” Part 1: 1979. Revised.ERIC. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.

These are two additional readings I have found thus far for my web project. I will find additional readings on cities that are also struggling to desegregated schools by voluntary or mandatory strategies.

Some digital elements I have thought about incorporating are maps, charts, and a survey. I would like to include the UConn MAGIC Map of racial composition in Hartford to depict the racial segregation in the Hartford region. I also will find racial demographic data to show the racial composition of the city of Hartford and some of the surrounding suburbs. Last, I would like to make a survey at the end of the page to see whether my readers believe a voluntary or mandatory effort to desegregate schools would be more successful.

One thought on “Karina’s Web Project Proposal”

  1. Karina, this is an interesting web project proposal about “mandatory” versus “voluntary” desegregation remedies. One way to sharpen your focus would be to help readers understand something that we discussed with Phil Tegeler: how it is possible to have more mandatory participation at the district-level, while maintaining the same voluntary participation at the family-level. It’s worth emphasizing this point because many people hear “mandatory” and immediately think that individual families would be required to send their children to other schools, which is not necessarily the case. The Sheff Movement is lobbying for suburban districts to be required to enroll a certain percentage of Hartford minority students in the Open Choice program. If that’s interesting to you, perhaps you could frame your web project on “The Middle Ground between Mandatory and Voluntary Desegregation” to educate people about this difference. Furthermore, it’s possible that you could create some tables/charts/or maps to visually illustrate what a specific percentage for each district would actually look like. We can talk more about this in seminar.

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