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A Public School Support Organization

Helping schools tap into the educational and social benefits of diversity

Why We’re Here

Right now, many public schools are at the center of a very important movement for change in America.

In a country that seeks strength through diversity, there is no greater asset than a public school. And when racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity within a school is meaningful and sustained, the impact can be life-changing for the entire school community. The research clearly shows that diversity brings both educational and social benefits for everyone—students, educators, and parents alike. And yet, history shows us that integrated environments can be fragile, and often resegregate.

What if this time around we figured out how to truly come together, and stay there?

The opportunity, like the challenge, is enormous. We’re here to help.

The Public Good uses research to help schools find strength and meaning in their differences, lighting the path to empathy, equity, and achievement for all. We see our role as a public school support organization (PSSO).

To learn more about our work, check out these videos from Park Slope Collegiate and PS 307 Brooklyn.

What We Do

We take a systematic, qualitative, research-based approach to understanding a school community. This deep engagement allows meaningful dialogue with community members about their own positions on issues pertinent to diverse schools—and helps them begin to see what these same issues look like from the other side of the privilege/color line.

Our research can bring difficult issues inside a community to light in a neutral way, and amplify voices as needed to create a more inclusive and stable community overall.

We offer:

Using the research to engage staff members and parents in thoughtful, intentional, and inclusive dialogue.

We believe in engaging with community members across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries to find common understanding and principles that will support your diverse school in becoming truly integrated—and help it stay that way.

Uneven levels of parental privilege, economic resources, and political clout too often lead to within-school discrepancies in how students are treated and valued and whose voice is heard at the decision-making level. We’ve learned that to get the whole story, you need to ask four questions:

  • Who is not in the room when issues of race and education are discussed publicly?
  • Who is in the room but not talking?
  • Who is talking but not speaking the truth?
  • Who is not hearing the truth?

In order to understand the truths not spoken in public meetings and day-to-day interactions within racially diverse schools, we conduct one-on-one, confidential interviews that explore how key constituents make sense of issues of race. We then use our cross-racial findings to engage school constituents as a group on difficult subjects like racial tensions, implicit biases, and how we understand what education is—and should be—for our children.

From and through this engagement process we help schools create “next steps”—such as an action plan, new programming and curriculum, and/or a new mission statement and school philosophy. We also help schools celebrate and share the good things going on their communities via strategic communications (see below).

Professional development to help teachers work with students of different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and to support curriculum and pedagogy that highlights the educational benefits of diversity.

We make cutting-edge scholarship on the benefits of diversity accessible to your community. We engage professors and graduate students from Teachers College to present information on the educational benefits of diversity in preparing students for the 21st century; assist with curricular reforms at the school and classroom level to help teachers teach in diverse classrooms; and assist educators in connecting the Common Core Learning Standards to the research on these benefits.

Additionally, we organize the Reimagining Education Summer Institute through Teachers College, which is designed for educators, policymakers, parents, and all stakeholders in K-12 schools. Through presentations, panels, interactive workshops, and deep dialogue sessions, participants will explore the opportunities and challenges of creating and sustaining racially, ethnically and socioeconomically integrated schools.

Strategic communication and advocacy for diverse schools and inclusive communities.

Following the completion of our research and community engagement, we will build a strategic communications plan that helps communicate the strengths of your school, as well as of integration and diversity generally, to the broader school community. This plan and related materials will be tailored to the action plan that your school community has collectively developed. Based on your school's goals, our team will also devise a strategy for sharing your message with an even wider audience. This audience may include neighborhood, district, city and/or national stakeholders.

We will also use our own staff and the services of pro bono attorneys to partner with you on sustained legal, policy, and administrative advocacy as needed. Strategies may include developing new student-assignment and admissions policies for schools; interjecting diversity concerns into discretionary land-use approvals; and ensuring that diversity issues are at the forefront as school districts consider the siting and admissions policies of new schools.

Our Team

Diana Cordova-Cobo

Diana Cordova-Cobo is a doctoral student in Sociology and Education at Teachers College and a former middle school teacher. Her work focuses on the relationship between housing trends and school demographic change.

Abbey Keener

Abbey Keener is a doctoral student in Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. In her work, she is interested in changing neighborhood patterns, educational inequality, and school- and neighborhood-based social networks.

A Brief History of Resegregation in America

We are in a moment of unique opportunity, with a powerful trend toward highly diverse “global neighborhoods” in both urban and suburban areas. These neighborhoods represent all four main racial/ethnic groups in proportions that come close to mirroring the composition of diverse metropolitan areas as a whole.

Unfortunately, this diversity is fragile. Much of the research on housing and segregation patterns concludes that for racial and ethnic diversity in demographically changing neighborhoods to stabilize, it requires not only public policies such as strong housing laws, but also a new level of openness to change and a deeper understanding of what racial integration (as opposed to de-segregation and assimilation) means—particularly on the part of those with the most choices to make, namely White and affluent families (Caldeira, 2005; Orfield and Luce, 2012; Wells, et. al., 2009; Wells, et. al. 2014).

This fragility of racially diverse neighborhoods is not new, as this graphic shows.*

However, with awareness, openness to community dialogue, and commitment to each other, particularly when diverse school communities and the children they serve are at the center of the conversation, there is real hope that something enduring can be built.

*Graphic by Patrick St. John, Schott Foundation for Public Education

Contact Us

Take a few moments to tell us a little more about you! We'll be in touch with information as our program develops.