Monday Reading List: STEM Inclusion, Scholarships for Activism, and Fact Checking Explosive Rhetoric

Kyle Walcott of Blavity looks at a push for greater diversity and inclusion in the STEM fields:

For years, this region of California’s Bay area has produced thousands of jobs and opportunities for ambitious, innovative dreamers who desire to climb the ranks as the new frontier in tech continues to rise. While a plethora of organizations in the valley promote diversity to the masses, there has been a glaring disparity in how they have practiced it, as the representation of blacks and minorities in tech stands vastly underwhelming. Although many may be quick to attack the source and fault the companies at hand, leading groups like the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) have taken the other route to recognize that the problem lies in the lack of organizations serving as a bridge between minorities and manufacturers.

The UNCF works in partnership with HBCUs to ensure that students are prepared for the rigors of STEM careers. In addition, they are creating linkages between higher education and the companies in Silicon Valley, asking managers to look beyond Stanford and the Ivy Leagues when making hiring decisions.

Speaking of HBCUs, Angela Helm of The Root looks at a new scholarship at Spellman:

The Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” said Spelman professor and alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall, who is founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center. Guy-Sheftall launched the scholars program and lecture series to explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality in May with a pledge of $100,000.

I am an unabashed fan of providing resources to activists, all the more so when those resources are targeted at students from underrepresented communities. 

Meanwhile, Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat tries to sort through the research, rhetoric, and misinformation about school choice and vouchers. In particular, he debunks the claim that vouchers increase racial segregation:

There is little evidence today that vouchers targeted at low-income families increase school segregation. A key question now is whether voucher programs increase school segregation in practice. There is surprisingly little recent research on this topic, but the studies that do exist suggest that voucher programs for low-income students have no effect or they lead to small increases in school integration. A recent study on Louisiana’s voucher program, which is largely used by low-income African-American students, found that black students tended to leave highly segregated public schools — but many also moved to a segregated private school. Still, more transfers had beneficial effects on integration than harmful ones.

There are lots of reasons to dislike vouchers - which I have outlined at length in previous posts - but their putative contribution to racial segregation ranks low on that list. Neither the federal government nor states should put a lot more money into school voucher programs. Even so, people and policymakers that want to maintain segregated schooling have plenty of tools at their disposal, like gerrymandered school district boundaries, prohibitively expensive real estate, and gentrification. As I wrote last summer, some of the most segregated places in America are on the north shore of "progressive" Massachusetts.

Have a great week!