What it means to be a socio-economically diverse school

Two years ago, I was on the Student Recruitment Committee of The Museum School, a charter school that struggles to enroll families of lesser financial means. We were under pressure from the county and state to diversify, not in terms of race, but in terms of socio-economic background. Some parents were nervous about the prospect of the school becoming more diverse. They liked the school the way it was and did not think the student body needed to change.

I had researched school diversity extensively over the years when I was an education reporter, so I wrote a white paper summarizing the research on school diversity. Research consistently points to positive outcomes for students from families of means in schools serving students from diverse backgrounds. But parents often have a hard time believing this is the case. They feel like a school where almost all the kids come from economically stable homes is the safer bet.

I am posting the white paper because economic diversity in schools has grown into a bigger issue in recent years, here in Atlanta and elsewhere. I thought the research might prove useful. I would like to note that language has evolved in recent years, and I now cringe at my use of the term minority instead of people of color. But the general findings that diverse schools are healthy and positive for most students have been consistent through the years.