Pornpat & Nathan’s Proposal

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Nathan Walsh & Pornpat Pootinath
Final Web Project Proposal
EDUC 308: The Cities, Suburbs, & Schools Project

Racially Desegregated Schools and Segregated Classrooms

Part 1: Story We Wish to Tell

We would like to analyze the success and drawbacks of the Sheff vs. O’ Neill case in achieving desegregated schools. Although many magnet schools in the Hartford region enroll both white and non-white students and meet Sheff desegregation goals, classrooms can remain highly segregated. By using Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy as an example, we will explore the effects of tracking on educational inequality. We hope to better understand how tracking occurs in the classroom and why minority students are overrepresented in lower-track classes.

This deserves its own page because studies shows that students of color tend to excel more in racially mixed classrooms. The Sheff case tries to improve educational opportunity for all students by creating more racially balanced schools. Even if schools are racially balanced, classrooms may remain segregated. Segregation, in any form, has devastating consequences for minority students. It is important to understand the realities of tracking and its impact on the ultimate success of the Sheff movement.

This paper will enable us to critique specifics of Sheff v. O’Neill and propose an alternative solution better designed to address tracking. Our web project is intended for a general audience, people looking for a general understanding of tracking and educational opportunity.

Part 2: Additional Reading and/or Research

We hope to provide readers insight on how Sheff vs. O’Neill cases are being implemented inside the classrooms, beyond just meeting the racial requirements. We plan on using Hartford Public Schools’ website, data from the CT State Department of Education, Sheff vs. O’Neill agreements, and readings on tracking such as Jeanie Oakes’ “Keeping Track”.

Part 3: Digital Elements

1. Student demographics
2. Student region of residence
3. Student test scores, disaggregated by race
4. Pictures or videos, as appropriate

One thought on “Pornpat & Nathan’s Proposal”

  1. Nathan and Pornpat, this is an interesting and ambitious proposal that raises relevant policy questions on Sheff. One problem is that it would require you to conduct new research on the degree of tracking within magnet schools, which by itself would require an entire semester or more. My advice is to reframe your idea into a more manageable story that you can tell. Consider a title that poses a question, perhaps something like: “Do Integrated Magnet Schools Have Racially Tracked Classrooms?” (or alternatively, “. . Have Racially Segregated Classrooms?). Doing so would allow you to ask the question and report about what we do (and do not) know from existing data and reports. For instance, you could demonstrate how the Sheff 2008 remedy defines reduced-isolation schools, but does not specify anything about classroom-level integration. Next, you could show how the CT Dept of Education reports racial data at the school and grade levels, but to my knowledge, not at the classroom level. (Ask me for sample grade-level spreadsheets.) This would allow you to write about what we do NOT know, but need to know (as Jeanie Oakes and others have warned us). I don’t know if you do (or do not) already have clear evidence about the presence (or lack) of racial segregation or tracking in specific magnet schools, so let’s discuss that in seminar. It would be difficult to collect this in a meaningful way before the deadline for this web project. Still, you can tell a story about why we need to know this, and what steps would be needed to investigate it.

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