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Conundrums of Integration: Desegregation in the Context of Racialized Hierarchy

Recent scholarly and public conversations have given renewed attention to integration as a goal, an aspiration, and/or an “imperative.” These calls for integration are infused with the conviction that segregation is a linchpin, if not the linchpin, of persistent racial hierarchies. For example, Sheryll Cashin (2004:xix) argued, Unless and until we complete the unfinished business of the civil rights movement, meaningfully integrating our public and private realms in a way that gives all Americans, especially those who have been most marginalized, real choices and opportunities, we will not solve the conundrum of race and class inequality in America. [emphasis added] Like Cashin, many suggest that integration is necessary for equality. They do so in part because racial segregation has broad negative consequences (Anderson 2010; Hartman and Squires 2010; Massey and Denton 1993). For instance, blacks and Latinas/os living in segregated communities experience higher crime, lower property values, fewer social services and public facilities, more environmental toxins, and worse health. Similarly, school segregation has consequences for educational quality (Mickelson 2008; Orfield, Frankenberg, and Garces 2008). Majority-minority schools have fewer qualified teachers; less access to technology, instructional materials, and advanced curricula; and lower-quality facilities (Darling-Hammond 2010; Diamond 2013; Lewis and Manno 2011; Mickelson 2003; Oakes 2005). While the costs of persistent segregation remain 558687SREXXX10.1177/2332649214558687Sociology of Race and EthnicityLewis et al. research-article2014 1 University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA 2 University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, USA Corresponding Author: Amanda E. Lewis, Department of African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 S. Morgan St (M/C 069), Chicago, IL 60607, USA. Email: Conundrums of Integration: Desegregation in the Context of Racialized Hierarchy Amanda E. Lewis1 , John B. Diamond2 , and Tyrone A. Forman1 Abstract Recent scholarly and public conversations have given renewed attention to integration as a goal, an aspiration, and/or an “imperative.” These calls for integration are infused with the conviction that segregation is a linchpin, if not the linchpin, of persistent racialized hierarchies. While the costs of persistent segregation remain clear, the call for integration as the unequivocal answer is more contested. In this article we grapple with some of these conundrums of integration, asking whether, in fact, integration furthers equity and if not, why not? To explore this issue we focus on an “integrated” space—Riverview, a successful high school known for its diversity—and drawing on theory from social psychology, we show how the promise of integration in such contexts is undermined. We conclude that while integration may well be a necessary condition to advance equity, it is not by itself a sufficient condition to ensure it. Keywords race, segregation, education, racism, integration, performance expectations Lewis et al. 23 clear, the call for integration as the unequivocal answer is more contested. For instance, there remains disagreement about how to achieve integration, or even whether it is the appropriate end goal. The ambivalence about integration stems from many factors, including cynicism about whether one can achieve it. With regard to education, schools have become more segregated in recent decades in part because the courts have largely abandoned desegregation interventions and have become more hostile toward voluntary district efforts to racially integrate (Orfield et al. 2008; Orfield and Gordon 2001; Wells et al. 2009). A second set of concerns relates to the assumption that integration is the best means to achieving equality. For example, in 1935, W. E. B. Du Bois (1935:120) argued that integrated schools were the “more natural basis for education of all youth.” However, given the racism and ignorance about black culture, historical contributions, and intellectual capacity among the white teachers to be found in integrated schools at the time, he was concerned about the efficacy of integration. He argued, “The Negro needs neither segregated schools nor mixed schools. What he needs is Education” (Du Bois 1935:120).1 Similarly, Pattillo (N.d.) more recently argued that integration should be seen as only one, and at best an imperfect, strategy toward achieving equality: “Promoting integration as the means to improve the lives of blacks stigmatizes black people and black spaces and valorizes whiteness as both the symbol of opportunity and the measuring stick for equality.” While we acknowledge the importance of these concerns, our goal here is not to enter the debate regarding whether integration is the best strategy for achieving equality. We instead ask whether, even where we are “successful” in combating segregation and manage to get diverse bodies into the same social space, the racial hierarchy is disrupted and equity is guaranteed. To do this, we study what many could call an optimal “integrated” space— Riverview High school, a successful suburban high school known for its diversity and commitment to integration. It is a well-funded school in a liberal district in which teachers and parents express a dedication to providing high-quality educational experiences to all. Despite these commitments, what we find at Riverview is that “integration” does not ensure equity. In many ways, the school captures the stark difference between desegregated spaces and truly integrated ones. As Martin Luther King (1986:118) described decades ago in the midst of school desegregation struggles, Although the terms desegregation and integration are often used interchangeably, there is a great deal of difference between the two. . . . The word segregation represents a system that is prohibitive; it denies the Negro equal access to schools, parks, restaurants, libraries and the like. Desegregation is eliminative and negative, for it simply removes these legal and social prohibitions. Integration is creative, and is therefore more profound and far-reaching than desegregation. Integration is the positive acceptance of desegregation and the welcomed participation of Negroes in the total range of human activities. Integration is genuine intergroup, interpersonal doing. As King noted, while the terms desegregation and integration are often used interchangeably, they represent quite different realities—one represents the lifting of formal systems of segregation, while the other signals a substantive or “genuine intergroup, interpersonal doing.” The reality we discover at Riverview might well be desegregated but it is certainly not integrated. It is a highly racialized educational terrain in which race shapes student experiences in ways that that exacerbate inequality and that seem directly contradictory to the school’s (and staff’s) intentions. Like many desegregated high schools, it does not live up to its promise (Clotfelter 2004; Tyson 2011). Here we ask why all groups are not experiencing full inclusion in the school’s rigorous academic programs (i.e., integration). And even more pointedly, how does a community that expresses an explicit commitment to integration tolerate such patterns? To answer these questions and explore why places like Riverview are not reaching their full potential, we draw on literature from social psychology. Collectively, this work helps us to understand how even those with the best intentions, operating in what many believe to be favorable, if not ideal, conditions, might end up reproducing the racial inequality they expressly hope to challenge. Back 24 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(1) the nature of interactions and experiences within desegregated spaces. Our long racial history has resulted in both entrenched material inequalities and entrenched cultural belief systems, and these systems play out in daily organizational practices and interactions. Social psychologists have put extensive energy into understanding precisely how social identities and status characteristics like race or gender organize social relations. The work of Cecilia Ridgeway and her colleagues on expectation states theory is particularly relevant (Correll and Ridgeway 2003; Ridgeway 2006, 2011). Like the abundant work in psychology on implicit bias (Greenwald and Banarji 1995), expectation states theory posits that status characteristics like race shape interpersonal interactions that are consequential for individual, small group, and institutional dynamics. That is, we identify people’s race, gender, or other status characteristic and anticipate whether they will make more or less valuable contributions than others because of their status, developing, in the process, “performance expectations.” Experimental work has found that actors defer to those with high status by giving them more chances to participate (Correll and Ridgeway 2003). The beliefs that fuel performance expectations are based on widely held ideas, like stereotypes, that associate greater social worthiness and competence with certain categories or status characteristics (e.g., whites and males). These belief systems attach status value to the distinguishing attributes such as race (Ridgeway et al. 1998). Resulting race-based status beliefs shape how we understand others and ourselves, how we make sense of the landscape in which we operate, and how we act and interact (Ridgeway 2011; Ridgeway and Erickson 2000). Race-based status beliefs have the potential to reinforce inequality in school by shaping everyday interactions and heightening performance pressures on students of color (Weinstein 2002). For example, one powerful set of status beliefs entail stereotypes about black and Latino/a students’ intellectual ability. As Aronson and Steele (2005:438) summarized, By middle-childhood, most American children have learned that blacks and Latino/as are less intelligent than whites . . . not everyone believes the stereotypes, but most people in the culture are aware of them, targets and nontargets alike. . . . Knowledge of their content alone can bias perceptions of stereotype targets. These broader beliefs are part of the racial commonsense in places like Riverview. We show how such beliefs lead to what we call everyday discrimination—conscious and unconscious ways of thinking and interacting that reinforce racial hierarchies. Such everyday discrimination is reflected in lower performance expectations for black and Latino/a students and differential responses to parents’ efforts to intervene in their children’s education.2 In these moments, race or skin color becomes a kind of symbolic capital for some kids, with whiteness providing multiple advantages (Lewis 2003; Staiger 2004). In fact, past research has found that performance expectations play out in numerous ways. They can, for example, shape behavior in self-fulfilling ways: The greater performance expectations are for individuals, the more chances they get to perform, the more likely they are to speak up, and the more likely their contributions will be positively evaluated and affirmed. The power of status beliefs, in part, is that “both groups come to agree, as a matter of social reality, that one group is socially evaluated as better than the other” (Ridgeway and Erickson 2000:580). The group held in lower esteem must expend psychic energy to deal with negative stereotypes such as low expectations (Aronson and Steele 2005; Weinstein 2002). This can make students vulnerable to what Claude Steele calls stereotype threat— the fear that one’s performance on an academic task will reinforce negative stereotypes about the person’s stigmatized group—and depress performance (Steele 1997, 2010). An abundance of research across domains shows that any time we are in a context in which stereotypes about our group are relevant, this can negatively affect performance (Steele 2010). Importantly, research shows that such effects are not a result of some internalized dynamic that we carry around with us or are predisposed to but rather are responsive to the context and contextual cues that convey whether the negative stereotype about our group might be at play in a particular place (Steele 2010). Neither performance expectations nor stereotype threat is overdetermining. For example, research confirms that performance expectations are malleable (Aronson, Fried, and Good 2002). When an actor is consistently assertive and engaging in high-status behavior, it can lead others to have different performance expectations. But this works only in limited ways. Low-status groups often report that they have to perform at higher levels to be judged as equally competent (or as the old saying goes, “work twice as hard to be considered half as good”) (Correll and Ridgeway 2003). When low-status actors are high-performing, they are Lewis et al. 25 likely to receive more scrutiny because their performance is inconsistent with expectations. Conversely, when members of high-status groups do not perform well, this registers surprise, concern, and need for possible intervention. The power of these dynamics, sometimes called expectancy effects, “lies not in the momentary beliefs, brief student-teacher interactions, and single outcomes but in the cumulative consequences of entrenched beliefs about ability over the course of a school career” (Weinstein 2002:7). The many daily exchanges between teachers and students (e.g., the amount of time allotted to answer a question, the kinds of feedback given) communicate to students whether they are expected to succeed. As we show in what follows, Riverview is not immune from these wider cultural beliefs about race or from the realities of persistent racial inequalities in the larger community. Thus, although we examine what many would consider to be a best-case scenario—a diverse school that has been desegregated for decades, situated within a liberal community that many flock to precisely because the schools are diverse and strong—widespread cultural beliefs about race are still present and they shape institutional processes and interpersonal interactions. These are tied to a sociohistorical process of domination and subordination and ultimately undermine the opportunities for true integration. Setting and Data The setting for this research is Riverview, a midsized city located within a large metropolitan area in the United States. Although not as diverse as the large city it abuts, Riverview is, relative to most suburban communities in the metropolitan area, quite diverse. Many flock to Riverview for its diverse population and successful schools. For example, it has very high graduation rates, and nearly 80% attend college (including more than 70% of African American graduates). In 2003- 2004, the student body of over 3,000 students was primarily black and white with a significant minority of Latina/o students (just under 10%). Just over 30% of the students come from low-income families. In many ways, the school is a picture of racial integration and high student achievement. This image, however, belies major differences in school achievement. While almost 90% of white students met or exceeded standards in both reading and math, more than 70% of African American students fell below standards on the same tests. Additionally, blacks make up 40% of the student population in Riverview high school but only 9% of the students taking advanced placement (AP) calculus. In contrast, whites make up 50% of the student body but 82% of the students taking this class by 12th grade. In terms of resources, Riverview is a largely middle-class community with a median family income of nearly $100,000 (U.S. Census Bureau 2007). However, black and Latina/o families earn less income than white families on average. Black families in Riverview possess 45% of white median family income, and Latina/o families possess 54% of white median income (Table 1). While whites make up 69% of the total population, they make up over 93% of the residents living in the wealthiest census tracts (U.S. Census Bureau 2007). These patterns highlight the extent to which the community is segregated across race and class lines. Median family incomes for all groups are above national averages and poverty rates are well below national averages, but white families have far more resources than do black and Latino families. These resources are not merely financial: White families tend to have more educational resources, more flexibility in time to spend dealing with their children’s education, and more cultural and social resources. Table 1. Key Demographic Characteristics of the Riverview Community. Median Family Income, 1999 Dollars Family Living in Owner-Occupied Housing, % Individuals below Poverty Line, % White (non-Hispanic or Latino) 103,145 58.6 7.8 Black (non-Hispanic or Latino) 46,422 44.1 13.9 Hispanic or Latino 55,729 37.8 14.0 Asian/Pacific Islander 63,438 24.1 14.3 Native American N/A N/A N/A Note: N/A, not applicable. Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2007). 26 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(1) The data for this study come from interviews with over 170 members of the Riverview school community, including students, parents, teachers, administrators, and staff. The interviews lasted between 45 and 150 minutes and were conducted at Riverview High School, private homes, and local coffee shops. They were semistructured interviews conducted by the authors as well as by trained graduate students using a standard protocol. All of the interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. A research assistant “cleaned” all of the interviews following transcription to ensure that the transcripts accurately captured the interview exchanges. We analyzed our data with the assistance of several computer programs (NVIVO, AtlasTI and MaxQDA). We read all of the transcripts and coded them for key categories and emergent themes. We coded both descriptive and demographic data (e.g., respondents’ race, class, GPA, sex, etc.) as “case” nodes. We also created multiple “topic” nodes including broad categories of interest like tracking, expectations, aspirations, parents, perceptions of school, and peers. We then created multiple subcategories of these nodes as “child” nodes. For instance, under “perceptions of school,” we added a child node called “racial discrimination.” We created profiles of individuals within our interview sample and created matrices in order to create visual representations of our findings. We used the text searching and other capabilities of the software to further interrogate our data. Findings So we have great diversity at this school, but it’s like two ships traveling in parallel lines—they don’t ever really cross. (Ms. Hicks, African American school counselor) As Ms. Hicks observes, Riverview is very diverse. It has been officially desegregated for decades. However, as she also describes, it is far from a model of integration. Once black, Latino, and white students pass through Riverview’s entrance, they mostly pass by each other on the way to different classrooms. As is true of similar high schools across the country, Riverview has an academic hierarchy that is highly racialized; classrooms are internally segregated with high-level courses largely dominated by white students and “regular” classes filled predominantly by black and Latino students (Oakes 2005; O’Connor et al. 2011).3 In fact, of the many possible measures of “racial achievement gaps” at Riverview, racialized tracking is often the most glaring—it is a physical manifestation of what is otherwise often only represented in abstract statistics. In some ways the racialized academic hierarchy, what other scholars refer to as “second-generation segregation,” at Riverview is not new (Mickelson 2001; Oakes 2005; Tyson 2011). Jim, a white school safety officer who grew up in Riverview, described the situation this way: “We instituted integration . . . in 1967, okay, when I was bussed to [elementary school] as a white boy. Now we’ve hardly gone anywhere since 1967 because we just reproduce segregation inside the school.” As Jim suggests, such hierarchies have existed here and elsewhere for as long as the school buildings themselves have been desegregated. The question remains, however, how schools like Riverview have what feels like quite “old-fashioned” racial hierarchies embedded within them despite the elimination of formal mechanisms of segregation decades ago. Such hierarchies are not a manifestation of group-level differences in ability or intelligence. While once popular, the idea that there are genetic group-level differences in intelligence has been thoroughly debunked (American Anthropological Association 1998; Koenig, Lee, and Richardson 2008; Roberts 2011). Beyond this, as psychologists are increasingly noting, the heavy focus on cognition in trying to understand educational outcomes is largely misplaced. As Aronson and Steele (2005) argued, academic competence is affected by whether you feel respected, welcomed, and/or treated well. These perceptions not only shape social relations but also influence motivation, performance, and learning. Intelligence is less stable and more fragile than we typically acknowledge, and a whole host of contextual factors shape whether any of us realize our potential. Further, “culture” a typical substitute for “genetics” in discussions of school outcomes, is also dubious as a good explanation of racially stratified academic hierarchies (Darity and Jolla 2009; Lewis 2013; O’Connor, Lewis, and Mueller 2007). Echoing other work, we found little if any evidence that an oppositional culture (one of the more popular “cultural” explanations for achievement gaps) on the part of black students explains these patterns (Diamond, Lewis, and Gordon 2007; Downey 2008; Harris 2011). So what are the racial dynamics generating th Lewis et al. 27 administrators, and staff we spoke to at Riverview, Ms. McDaniels both acknowledged that racial issues remain at the school but also sought to make sure we understood that unlike the past, it is usually unintentional or “inadvertent.” Longtime white Riverview teacher Don Michaels explained that no one is trying to do anything “purposefully,” instead using “institutional racism” to describe what he has seen: Sometimes [African American students aren’t treated right] and I hate to say it, but it’s still true now. And I’m not saying in a sense that people are purposely doing something because of race, but institutional racism is there, I mean it just is. While these staff referred to “inadvertent” or “institutional” racism, we believe the terms institutional and everyday discrimination better capture the dynamics these community members describe. Institutional discrimination captures such things as highly racialized school practices and structures (e.g., tracking) and the way school practices differently respond to and reward the social and cultural resources (e.g., cultural capital, social networks) students and families bring to school. This kind of discrimination includes “decisions and processes that may not themselves have any explicit racial content but that have the consequence of producing or reinforcing racial disadvantage” (Pager and Shepherd 2008:2). As Pager and Shepherd (2008: 20) put it, this frame of institutional discrimination “encourages us to consider how opportunities may be allocated on the basis of race in the absence of direct prejudice or willful bias.” Everyday discrimination includes all the ways that race-based status beliefs and racial stereotypes shape interactions and expectations—“the subtle, pervasive discriminatory acts experienced by members of stigmatized groups on a daily basis” (Deitch et al. 2003:1299). This everyday discrimination has concrete implications for access to educational opportunities. So in trying to understand how seemingly “oldfashioned” racial hierarchies persist in putatively “integrated” institutions like Riverview, for the most part we did not find evidence of explicit racism or intentional favoritism. Rather, what we found is a situation in which there is an almost universal espoused commitment to equity but in which almost everything about achievement in the schools is racialized—how school community members understand themselves and each other, how they interact with one another, how decisions are made about which students belong in which classes. Both formal and informal school practices and structures (including tracking, the school discipline system, and many daily exchanges between students, parents, and school personnel) are in multiple and complex ways shaped by racial dynamics. As Mickelson (2003:1076) has noted, “so long as race confers privileges outside schools, it is hard to imagine it does not do the same within schools.” Racial dynamics shape the actual organization of classrooms and spaces. Ms. Hicks, one of the African American school counselors, provided this more elaborate description of the school: It’s really diverse. Unfortunately, I don’t think kids really have the opportunity to take advantage of that diversity, because when you look at the regular level classes, you’re going to walk in and 70% of those kids are going to be black. When you look at the honors classes, 70% of those kids are going to be white. So we have great diversity at this school, but it’s like two ships traveling in parallel lines—they don’t ever really cross. All the black kids play football; the white kids play soccer. . . . If you look at the cheerleading squad, I think there are two white girls on the cheerleading squad. If you look at the volleyball team, it’s almost all white. It’s like two high schools. The white kids have found their niche and it’s not the same place as the black kids. Or as Ms. Watson, another long-time African American Riverview teacher, put it, As much as it seems like we’re together, we’re integrated, we’re not integrated. We’re diverse, but we’re not integrated. We just go to school here together. Both school staff members describe a context of formal integration and informal segregation, “two ships traveling in parallel lines” that rarely cross. Ironically, in trying to capture the extent of separation, Ms. Hicks actually underestimates the extent of the racialization of tracks. White students make up 48% of the student population but nearly 90% of the students taking AP classes and 80% of students taking honors classes (Figure 1). As we will elaborate, these stark realities are obvious to all, but somehow they become a part of the taken-for-granted everyday reality such that adults and children attend school every day without outrage or surprise. 28 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(1) While we are treating institutional and everyday dynamics as distinct, in practice they overlap and intersect. An example from parental intervention dynamics at the school illustrates this and also reveals a key mechanism in the generation of racial hierarchy—how race and class become conflated and race becomes a key signifier in everyday interpersonal dynamics. While white families in Riverview generally have more resources than black families, in the daily functioning of the school they do not always have to actively deploy them to gain advantages. Race and class often get conflated such that school personnel tend to assume that most white students come from middle-class or upper-middle-class families and most black and Latino students do not. In other writing, Lewis (2003) has talked about the way this conflation of race and class can pay off for white children because economic capital gets translated into symbolic capital. It does not matter whether you specifically are a white student with wealthy parents since your whiteness is the primary signifier being acted upon (Morris 2006; Staiger 2004). Status beliefs are attached to and conflated with what is visible—racial differences. When dealing with white students, Riverview personnel often anticipate parental pressure, intervention, or concern. Thus, while school staff provided multiple examples of the ways white parents deployed resources on behalf of their children, they also described multiple ways that they acted proactively in advance, in anticipation that a parent was likely to be harassing them if they did not. In these ways whiteness became a symbolic resource for white students. As demonstrated in the examples below, none of the actions taken by school personnel are explicitly racial in nature. And even more important for understanding how institutional discrimination works, it is not just that white families had more resources to deploy; rather, the school’s interactional practices, rules, and structures made it possible for racial resources to pay off to the advantage of white students. We first got a sense of these dynamics talking to an African American teacher after a school workshop. She stopped one of us and said she had been thinking throughout the discussion about how she tends to worry more about white students in her class. As she put it, it was not that she cared more about them or wanted them to excel more than her other students but that she “knew” that their parents were likely to be upset if they did not do well. She realized that much of the time parents did not need to come in or say anything—just the possibility that they might was powerful: If a white student was not doing well, she followed up, lest she hear about it from their parents later. Ms. Hicks talked about similar dynamics: It’s hard, because I would love to say, “Yes, they’re all treated the same.” But I think the reality is they’re not. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. So if you’re a parent, and you come, and you say, “My child got a C. You need to help me figure it out.” And I know that you’re going to call me every day, I’m going to go to that teacher and say, “You know what? What’s going on? Tell me what’s happening.” After I find out what’s happening, I’m going to get back to that parent. I’m going to advocate for that kid. Whereas, if you are a kid and your parents are not going to call me every day or hasn’t called me, we have 286 kids on our caseload, it could take me a month to realize that that you have two or three Cs. As Ms. Hicks describes, her caseload makes it difficult to keep track of hundreds of students’ needs. 36.1 53.1 10.9 78.7 16.8 4.5 87.6 9.7 2.7 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Regular AP White Black Latino Honors Figure 1. Percentage of Riverview Students Across Track by Race. Lewis et al. 29 However, when parents make requests, or have made them in the past, or if she recognizes a parent as one who is likely to call every day, then she becomes an advocate. Here she discusses both actual calls and likely calls, both actual and anticipated “squeakiness.” White social studies teacher Don Michaels also spoke to this issue of “squeaky” parents: It goes back to that issue about which parents are gonna play an active role, and the squeaky wheel and so on. And I know just from conversations with teachers there are some teachers that will simply say you know this kid really didn’t deserve the C– but I knew that if I gave him a D+ I was going to get a lot of grief from the parent, and the tradition has tended to be that it’s more likely to be a white parent than it’s going to be the black parent. School personnel described different aggregate involvement patterns between white and minority families, but they also described how those experiences generalize to cases where parents do not get involved. Moreover, they note that parental intervention pays off with quite different outcomes for the students. The differential treatment, then, is a matter of school policy—even if is implicitly so. These examples from different school community members capture the many small ways that subtle racial dynamics contribute to different school outcomes (e.g., shaping performance expectations). Racialized Tracking—“The Honors White School and the Other School” Not only is the distribution of students in tracks at Riverview High School highly racialized, but the tracks themselves have become racialized (O’Connor et al. 2011; Tyson 2011). Thus, the local discourse is not just that the some groups tend to be in certain classes but that those have become racialized spaces. Julius, an upper-middle-class, highachieving black student, described the school this way: “The fact is that Riverview is two schools in one. There is the honors white school, and then there’s the other school.” Similarly, Richard, a high-achieving white student, speculated, “I mean if you look at the numbers, I’m betting there are more white kids that are in the honors classes, and more black kids that are in minority classes.” As these quotes from Riverview juniors show, the tracks themselves have become identified as belonging to different racial groups. They are not just high and low tracks but “honors white” and “minority classes.” The fact that white students are more often in high tracks generalizes to those being white tracks, tracks where white students belong and deserve to be. Black and Latina/o students’ overrepresentation in regular and remedial classes translates into those being “minority” spaces. These status hierarchies get translated into performance expectations in multiple ways. When we spoke to African American Vice Principal Mr. Webber, he said, with a shake of his head, “I think that sometimes the expectations [for black and Latino students] are lower.” These expectations get communicated to students in lots of subtle ways. A white special education teacher described the recent behavior of one of her peers: There was a teacher who had a minority student come into their honors class and you know he was your stereotypical baggy jeans, big shirt, hat turned sideways, you know, and she said to him, ‘You know I think you belong in my next period, you’re too early’ and assumed that he was a general student. And he’s like, ‘No, no my schedule says I belong here.’ Both teachers and students reported these kinds of interactions between race and performance expectations. For example, in his interview, Julius, a high-achieving African American student, reported his struggle with getting into high track courses: My freshman teacher didn’t like me. She didn’t recommend me for U.S. History AP. My mom had to spend a couple of hours on the phone getting me into the class, even though I’m a kid who takes extremely hard classes, and gets good grades, they just don’t let you in. They make it very, very difficult for you to take the classes you want. And many of the staff of color concurred. As Ms. Tyson, an African American school secretary, said, Well, if you are a student of color, could be an African American student or Latino, There are assumptions that you don’t care about school, that you . . . you don’t have the capability of being successful in school. And so those are negative messages that they have to deal with, ah, every day. It was not only African American students and staff who observed these dynamics. A number of 30 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(1) white students reported perceptions among school officials that white students were smarter and better behaved. Gabe, a white junior, reported this: I’m white, so I’m expected to be smarter. Usually, when someone sees me, they always think I’m smarter than most people. . . . I think that usually the perception is . . . that black people are dumber than white people and Hispanics are not as smart as everyone else. . . . So if you have a really smart black person, that’s when you see the most, “That’s weird.” In one of my classes, there’s one black kid in the entire class; there’s zero Hispanics. It’s all just white people. And that’s, it’s weird. As he puts it, he experiences dissonance when exposed to a “really smart black person” because it does not coincide with expectations in a context in which there are large numbers of black students in the school and almost none in his classes. Leah, a white sophomore, put it this way: I definitely think that there are stereotypes that go along with all races . . . and white not excluded. . . . So I feel like people see me, I’m like a middle-class, white girl. You know, so . . . I feel like people expect . . . me to be a certain way. They expect me to be respectful and quiet and intelligent and stuff like that. For Leah, being white meant that people held high expectations for her in the classroom because she was white. People expect a “middle-class white girl” to be “respectful and intelligent.” White students like Leah, particularly girls, reported receiving the benefit of the doubt across school contexts, inside and outside of the classroom—a pattern that can lead to enhanced performance through a process called stereotype lift (Walton and Cohen 2003). Students also reported these dynamics in their interactions with other students. Maria, a Latina sophomore, stated: Well, there’s been times where I’ve been in classes with white kids, and I tried my best at times. When I do, the white girls, they’re always going in their own little clique, and look at the Mexicans as if we were dumb or something. It just makes us feel bad. Experienced as racial microaggressions, these exchanges are exactly the kinds of stereotype threat “cues” that signal to students that negative racial stereotypes about their group are at play (Lewis, Chesler, and Forman 2000; Steele 2010). These kinds of cues can come both from interpersonal interactions and from institutional arrangements. Not only do black and Latina/o students potentially feel the brunt of the kinds of interactions that Maria, Ms. Tyson, and Daryl describe, but the very fact of racialized tracking is everpresent, linking race with achievement (Tyson 2011). As Bobo, Kluegel and Smith (1997:23) said, it provides “the kernel of truth needed to regularly breathe new life into old stereotypes.” In this way tracking reinforces the status beliefs—it is an institutional mechanism through which status beliefs get reinforced (Tyson 2011). Joan Cristy, a white special education teacher at the school, describes an example of this when she explains how the experience of being in low track classes is qualitatively different for different groups. Joan Cristy: If a new kid comes in the class and they’re any other . . . race, [kids will say] “You don’t belong here. This is the black class.” . . . And [the students] hang outside in the hallways until after the bell. And it’s not because they’re trying to be a jerk and push the limits, it’s because they don’t want to be identified. Interviewer: They don’t want people to know they’re coming into this room? Joan Cristy: Um hum [affirmative]. And I don’t think it’s just because of Special Ed, I also think it has to do with race and just like—see, we’re all put in a box. And that’s because they’re not fortunate to be in a lot of classes where they’re all mixed. They don’t see that just because of the nature of things. But they kind of [understand the class as] “it’s black and we’re dumb.” So something has been taught, something has gone to them through their educational experience, which is just so painful. You know? And yet—then on the other side, you know, the Latino kids or the white kids who also are in Special Ed, they have the same thing and it’s just simply because they know they’re in different classes. “I’m different”; they just happen to associate it with their individuality. We have added emphasis here to two points. One is Ms. Cristy’s comment that the fact that these students are never in classes where “they’re all mixed” is “because of the nature of things.” It is certainly not the nature of things but rather the structure of things—how classes are organized—that generates Lewis et al. 31 these patterns. Moreover, whereas she observes that for black students, placement in special education becomes evidence of their collective lack of ability, for other students, as she put it, “they just happen to associate it with their individuality.” Conflation of Race, Rigor, and Tracks Track placement has consequences not only for students’ sense of self but also for the curricula they receive and for their treatment more generally. For example, when Mr. Webber told us about his concern about how race shaped expectations, he struggled for a moment to convey exactly what he meant and why he was so worried. In frustration, he pulled out a school schedule, pointing to a course listing that only an insider could identify as being a lower-level class. ’Cause I’ll show you a little bit where I’m going with this. . . . See this class [gesturing at the schedule]. Is the academic level of this class identifiable by a racial makeup of the class? . . . I have walked too often into lower-level classes that are predominantly black or Latino—black and Latino—and found the activities that are going on, the instructional activity to be less than or a lower quality than I would find in some other classrooms. It is more likely in a

[lower level]

that is predominantly black and Latina/o that if students finish they will be finished a few minutes before the bell at the end of the period and standing at the door whereas in the predominantly white honors classrooms, teaching goes up to the bell. You know, bell to bell teaching. It’s that kind of thing. It’s that kind of thing. The requirement for assignments may be different and the question is, why? As Mr. Webber notes, lower expectations for black and Latino students mean not only that they are more often in lower-level classes but also that those classes collectively receive a less rigorous educational experience. Abundant research over the last 20 years has found that the achievement differences between those in high and low tracks increase over time no matter where students begin in terms of test scores (Oakes 2005). Those placed in low tracks learn less and show fewer gains over time than similarly situated high-track students. High-track students benefit not from the grouping itself but from the enhanced curriculum, special resources, and supports. Tracking exacerbates preexisting inequalities (Condron 2007, 2008). As Sorenson and Hallinan (1986:519) said, “Grouping is not neutral with respect to inequality of educational opportunity.” Thus, to the extent that status beliefs shape performance expectations, they also affect actual positional inequalities that result. Like findings elsewhere, evidence from a number of sources at Riverview indicate that lowertrack classes offer a lower-quality educational experience. Ms. Paul, an African American history teacher, put it this way: You give that new teacher three classes of the lowest achieving students outside of Special Ed in the school, and you call that setting the students up for success. That’s not right. The students that are at the lowest level, at the bottom of the gap, they need the best teachers in school. In fact, community members widely acknowledged that the upper-level courses provide a stronger educational experience. For instance, white Riverview parent Janet stated, “Well, and everybody told us if she didn’t take the honors classes she would be bored silly. . . . This is what they say is that the teaching quality is not as good amongst the teachers who don’t teach honors.” Teachers also reported these patterns. Mike Sellers, a white social studies teacher put it this way: I think there’s some structural issues just flat out with . . . tracking . . . whether people admit it or not it is a destructive force in some kids’ lives. In particular minority kids. . . . Some of these classes that are at the lower level aren’t taught at the level which would allow kids to do college work in three years or whatever. So there’s a huge thing. What are we doing with our [sighs] our so-called “regular ability” students? Are we, you know, expecting enough of those kids to, so that they can meet the challenges that they’re going to get [in college] or whatever? . . . I think there’s too much of a disconnect in expectations. Here we see a complex set of interactions between meaning and structure such that structural inequalities or institutional discrimination interact with already available racial ideologies to both produce and then justify racial patterns in outcomes. The question from some will be whether these tracks don’t just represent an unfortunate but “real” 32 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(1) difference in students’ academic potential or commitment. Interestingly, a recent experiment by a relatively new teacher in the school confronted this issue directly. As with all subjects, there are major differences in students’ mathematics course taking, which begins early on in their educational careers. During 4th grade, students are tested in mathematics. Based on a combination of these tests and teachers’ recommendations, students are placed on two different tracks, one that leads to higher-level mathematics in high school (e.g., calculus by 12th grade) and one that does not. By 5th grade, the vast majority of students placed in the upper-level mathematics sequence are white. By 8th grade, most of these students have taken Algebra I, a critical milestone for students to reach high-level mathematics in high school. Historically, by the time students reached the 12th grade, very few African American and Latino students were in upper-level mathematics courses. After joining Riverview and being surprised about the racial demographics in AP math, Mr. Bettencourt (a white math teacher) decided to try to address this by starting a new program. Realizing that most African American and Latino students in the high school were never going to have an opportunity to take advanced or AP math courses unless their coursework was accelerated, he invited students doing well in Algebra I (African-American, Latina/o, and white) to spend over four hours a day with him for six weeks in the summer to take geometry so they could catch up to those who had been tracked into the accelerated program years before. Many accepted. Within a few years he had doubled (and eventually tripled) the number of African American and Latina/o students in calculus at the high school. While not systematic in its design, this experiment demonstrates that structural arrangements in the school are serving to narrow options for some students—students who are capable of succeeding in advanced courses into which they have not historically been channeled. As described by everyone, the kinds of institutional processes that lead to tracking include within them multiple discretionary steps where more subtle processes related to teachers’ expectations of students or parental desires operate. Recent research has shown the many ways racial stereotypes negatively affecting students of color (Codjoe 2001; Ferguson 2000; Ferguson 1998; Lewis 2003; Diamond, Randolph, and Spillane 2004). In the implementation of programs such as the math tracking practice in the district, even school personnel with the best intentions can unintentionally have a negative effect on minority achievement. Consequences for Understandings of Race The structure of tracking in schools like Riverview is of concern for a number of reasons, both academic and nonacademic. As noted, tracking conveyed complicated messages to those on the bottom and the top about race and ability. Ms. McDaniels, a retiring school principal, spoke about it this way: I think kids just don’t realize that they can do things. They just kind of accept that role . . . I don’t even know if they really think about it too much anymore . . . But I think they just kind of accept it. . . . This is kind of a crass statement

[but they must wonder]

. . . “How did everybody white get to be really smart?” And it’s another piece . . . chipping away of . . . that’s the kind of the little insult. “Why am I not with them? We were always together.” So. You know . . . I know that they think about it, but I think another piece of it is we just really don’t talk enough about it. You know, it just happens. What Ms. McDaniels captures is the complexity of institutional discrimination—this kind of chipping away in which there are no clear perpetrators, things just happen, but happen in a way that consistently benefits some more than others. Over time students can come to, as she put it, “accept that role,” only occasionally wondering what happened to all the white students they used to be in class with. When we spoke to Elaine Peters, a white high-level district administrator, about why there were not more black and Latina/o students in highlevel classes, she stated the following: Well one it’s historical. “I don’t belong here.” But too it is recruitment. Yeah, I think in a situation, as much as I can imagine what it would be like to be an African American kid in this high school, I wouldn’t see—unless I’m being pushed by home or pushed by a teacher and home to do so or a group of friends which is possible, I wouldn’t see that as where I needed to end up. But if I’m even an average, strong white student, my kids, my friends are gonna be there. I mean it’s gonna kind of sweep me along. So we have to orchestrate the recruitment. You belong here . . . As Karolyn Tyson (2011:159–60) found in her research on North Carolina schools, students internalize institutional messages about who is and is not smart, and this shapes their sense of what courses they belong in. Lewis et al. 33 Don Michaels wanted to make it clear that teachers do not mean to do it, “that’s not the intention,” but that he believed they did not always challenge black students as much. We have so many kids that are very capable but for whatever reason have never been pushed to their limits and it’s really hard when I get them as juniors and excuse me, I didn’t realize this was gonna catch me like that but I haven’t thought about in a long time. It’s really hard when you get them as juniors to try to do damage control there and oftentimes that’s just what it is is damage control because they’ve lost faith in themselves, they don’t trust the system and it’s really hard to get them to realize what they’re capable of doing in their lives. Tracking conveys multiple messages to students about what they are capable of but also conveys messages about “race” in general. Jim, a white longtime member of the school safety staff, spoke of tracking and its effects at length. Jim: I believe that too many white people in this building harbor negative conceptions of the ability, of the intellectual abilities of African American and Latino students. And some of these perceptions are unconscious. They’re low expectations. I believe that tracking is the single most damaging—damaging policy that we could have if we are interested in closing the minority achievement gap. Interviewer: Why is tracking so bad? Jim: Tracking reproduces segregation that is at large in society. We are separating—what you wind up with are classes that are thoroughly as segregated by so-called ability as they are, as they would be if you segregated them by race. And you are teaching children that they are different from each other. You are teaching one group that they are better than another. You’re teaching the other group that they are inferior to the other. You’re teaching them that they’re strangers, that they are not brothers and sisters. You are teaching them that they cannot coexist as brothers and sisters. You are teaching them that they are not members of the same human race. Jim worries that, as Darity and Jolla (2009:109) put it recently, the exclusion of black students from high-level courses “makes race-thinking become racist-thinking . . . [constructing] an equation between being black and being an inferior student, particularly in white students’ minds.” Conclusion This research has focused on racial dynamics in a highly resourced, desegregated school within a liberal community to capture some of the conundrums of integration today. One might ask why so many identify Riverview as a desirable educational destination—desirable for both white children and children of color. One answer is that even partial inclusion in a well-resourced context like Riverview provides more opportunity than attending schools in the large majority-minority metropolitan school district nearby. All students benefit somewhat from attending this multiracial school. This is the conundrum of settings like Riverview, and in this way it serves as a cautionary tale. It illustrates the value of attending schools in municipalities that have heavily invested in education at the same time that it demonstrates on multiple levels how, even in these places, race works to advantage white students and disadvantage students of color (Holt 1995; Lewis 2014; O’Connor et al. 2007). The material and symbolic dimensions of racial hierarchy enter into school along with the diverse student body. We suggest, as Hartman and Squires (2010:7) recently observed, that while the grave costs of segregation are clear, we also have to be attentive to the “perhaps unintended consequences that have been encountered” in trying to realize the potential benefits of integration. Integration or, more accurately, desegregation in schools like Riverview reflects large inequalities in power (along lines of both material resources and cultural belief systems). Therefore, it is not enough to merely include students within the same buildings. For places like Riverview to live up to the hopes for “integration,” we need to ensure that students are truly integrated and have full access to all of the educational opportunities offered in these contexts. While the terms desegregation and integration are often used interchangeably, they represent quite different realities. As King put it, lifting formal systems of segregation does not automatically signal a substantive or “genuine intergroup, interpersonal doing.” Desegregation does not always mean inclusion. While King raised these concerns just over five decades ago in the midst of struggles to implement the famous Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, they remain pertinent today. Despite widespread acceptance of the principle of 34 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(1) integration, and a general embrace of the idea of diversity, real commitment to its realization too often remains tenuous at best (Bell and Hartmann 2007). The reality that integration alone is not an answer does not mean that segregation is not harmful. The fact is that seeking to achieve real integration (whether by race or class, or race and class) remains pressing because segregation in our public schools and elsewhere clearly reinforces inequality. If we invested nationally in public schooling, distributed educational resources more equitably, and ensured that all public schools met some minimal quality threshold (what many talk about today as “adequacy”) then we might be able to have a substantive debate about whether, all things being equal, diversity itself is beneficial. But we still do not have what Posey-Maddox (2014:145) recently called a “commitment to everyone” that is reflected in a commitment by the state to providing not just an education but a quality education. Thus, separate remains unequal and widespread segregation remains detrimental to justice. However, trying to implement integration within a context of deep inequalities in wealth and resources, entrenched race-based status beliefs, and wide-scale disinvestment in public services presents many challenges. Thus, while scholars are perhaps correct in identifying segregation as a linchpin of inequality, if we treat achieving desegregation as an endpoint we will not be able to intervene on the many mechanisms through which racial hierarchies are perpetuated even in desegregated spaces. Only through full attention to all the ways race continues to matter when diverse bodies share space will we make sure it matters less in determining access to opportunities to learn and thrive. Acknowledgments The authors thank Carla O’Connor, William Darity, Heather Beth Johnson, Barbara Lewis, and Michelle Manno for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper as well as the Spencer Foundation, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Radcliffe Institute, Center for the Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, University of Illinois at Chicago’s Office of Social Science Research, University of Wisconsin– Madison, and Emory University for supporting this research. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Notes 1. More recently, Derek Bell (2004) argued that the commitment to integration as a strategy may have at times overshadowed the goal of enhancing educational opportunity. As he wrote, “In school desegregation, the goal of equal educational opportunity became merged with racial balance and busing as a means to its attainment, the rejection of the means was viewed as a defeat of the goal” (Bell 2004:120). 2. It is important to recognize that such perceptions and behaviors need not be conscious. Part of the power of status beliefs is that they provide shorthand for interpreting and responding to others across a broad range of situations. 3. O’Connor and colleagues label these patterns “racially stratified academic hierarches” (O’Connor et al. 2011).

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