Mary Lim

Thursday, September 03, 2015

va: 3 targeted problems

Main Problem
The segregation of Kansas City by race and class due to schools not being integrated.

Background Research

  • Racial segregation in housing and schools have been defining features of the Kansas City metropolitan area for over a century. The Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD) was racially segregated from its creation in September 1867. In the ensuing decades, school officials provided separate education facilities for blacks and whites, and the city and metropolitan area developed clearly defined patterns of racial segregation....In the 1990s, Massey and Denton (1993, 75-7) identified Kansas City as one of the nation's hypersegregated metropolitan areas due to the high degree of segregation in housing patterns on a range of indices. While the index of dissimilarity for the metropolitan area declined slightly to 73.15 in 1990 and 69.12 in 2000, Kansas City continues to be one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the nation (Mumford Center 2001), a situation that is reinforced by continuing suburbanization, inner city disinvestment, and school segregation. (  
  • Widening racial gaps in income, health, and work opportunities are putting the entire Kansas City area's economic future at risk, according to a new study. The trend will turn around only if the nine-county metropolitan area improves its "equity profile," researchers are due to tell civic leaders at a Tuesday luncheon. That means expanding programs and policies to help people of color live in safer neighborhoods, get better educations and obtain decent-paying jobs...Improving the economic lot of the area's racial minorities is essential, the report said. By 2040, 42 percent of the area's population is likely to be composed of minorities. In 2010, Census data put that share at 27 percent...."The region's white population grew only 5 percent....Equity is the superior growth model," Katerndahl said. "The whole workforce must be well-educated and engaged if you want this area to succeed." (
  • Although few policymakers and wonks are talking about it, a small but growing number of schools are attempting to boost the achievement of low-income students by shifting enrollment to place more low-income students in mixed-income schools. Socioeconomic integration is an effective way to tap into the academic benefits of having high-achieving peers, an engaged community of parents, and high-quality teachers. (
  • Our ability to remedy this situation by integrating schools is hobbled by historical ignorance. Too quickly forgetting 20th-century history, we've persuaded ourselves that the residential isolation of low-income black children occurs in practice but is not government-ordained. We think residential segregation is but an accident of economic circumstance, personal preference, and private discrimination. (
  • The widening income achievement gap is a symptom of a confluence of trends that have accompanied and exacerbated widening income inequality in the United States over the last four decades. But it is a symptom with real and important consequences....If we do not find ways to reduce the growing inequality in education outcomes, we are in danger of bequeathing our children a society in which the American Dream—the promise that one can rise, through education and hard work, to any position in society—is no longer a reality. Our schools cannot be expected to solve this problem on their own, but they must be part of the solution. (
  • On average, students' socioeconomic backgrounds have a huge effect on their academic outcomes. But so do the backgrounds of the peers who surround them. Poor students in mixed-income schools do better than poor students in high-poverty schools. (
  • Socioeconomic integration is a win-win situation: Low-income students' performance rises; all students receive the cognitive benefits of a diverse learning environment (Antonio et al., 2004; Phillips, Rodosky, Muñoz, & Larsen, 2009); and middle-class students' performance seems to be unaffected up to a certain level of integration. Research about this last point is still developing. A recent meta-analysis found "growing but still inconclusive evidence" that the achievement of more advantaged students was not harmed by desegregation policies (Harris, 2008, p. 563). It appears that there is a tipping point, a threshold for the proportion of low-income students in a school below which middle-class achievement does not suffer.
  • If more schools, charter and otherwise, use creative strategies to tackle the challenges of socioeconomic integration, they can help shift the turnaround discussion from an exclusive focus on how to improve high-poverty schools to a discussion that also looks seriously at how to break up concentrations of poverty and provide more diverse learning environments for all students. (
Possible Design Problems
  • We are trying to reach essentially two very different audiences. (lower / higher class)
  • So communicating to these people will take different approaches. We will have to find a way to communicate to both groups in a cohesive way.
  • Also the way in which we send our message may need to be approached in different ways. Lower income families may not have access to smart devices, whereas higher income families might not receive the message if it isn't sent through a smart device

Three Possible Directions 
1. inform and educate people on the gap

audience: could be parents within any social group that need to know the importance
of integrated education for their children

2. reach the people unwilling to send their kids to integrated schools and 
attempt to break down their reasons why / prove it's better for their children 

audience: parents of higher social status who send their children to schools that 
only provide interaction with kids in their own class and racial group 

3. reach the people that are unable to send their kids to schools that provide a 
better education and attempt to find resources for them 

audience: lower class parents who do not have the resources to send their kids 
to schools that provide a better education, also leaving these kids stuck in their
own racial and social groups 

Board of Education 
Teachers / Parents 

3 Possible Directions

  1. People are Uninformed
  2. People are Unwilling/There are no Role Models
  3. People are Unable

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