Columbia University’s Teachers College: ‘Colorblind’ policies harm our diverse public schools

So-called “colorblind” educational policies not only fail to address racial inequality in American classrooms, they worsen and perpetuate it, according to an evidence-based policy brief by TC’s Amy Stuart Wells, professor of Sociology and Education. The brief, recently published by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, concludes that education reforms that ignore racial differences and disparities have worsened, rather than corrected, racial inequalities in student access to high-quality schooling.

In Seeing Past the “Colorblind” Myth of Education Policy: Why Policymakers Should Address Racial/Ethnic Inequality and Support Culturally Diverse Schools, Wells describes “mounting evidence to suggest that so-called ‘colorblind’ accountability and school choice policies, premised on narrow definitions of school quality and absent interventions to support diversity, exacerbate racial and social class segregation and inequality.”

Wells, who is also the Director of the Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE) at TC, concludes that the most popular education policies of the last 30 years – namely, school choice policies and strict accountability systems – rarely consider race, diversity, or the dramatic racial and ethnic demographic shifts taking place in the public school population. As a result, she argues, these policies advance an ineffective “colorblind” approach to educational reform that ignores stark racial inequality when implementing policies and then bemoans vivid racial inequalities in educational outcomes. And so on and on…

Note at the end: “The report was made possible in part by funding from the Ford Foundation.”

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