Great Schools for All (GS4A) has published the analysis of a collaborative survey of students in Monroe County Schools conducted in May and June of 2021. GS4A partnered with students planning the ROC2Change virtual gathering which brought over 300 students together to discuss the current – and historic – racial and economic segregation in Monroe County. Students who participated reflected representation from almost every school district, parochial and private high school in Monroe County.
Read the “Student Survey Summary Report” here.
With student planners, GS4A was able to help design a student survey to determine potential student interest in and support for voluntary, racially and socio-economically diverse cross-district magnet schools. Student perspectives are critical in considering community education options, as they are the ones who will ultimately determine whether such schools should be part of the answer to racial and economic segregation in our community. The analysis of student responses was conducted by Research America, Inc., in August of 2021.
GS4A surveyed over 600 city and suburban parents in May of 2016 (“Great Schools for All Parent Survey Summary Report”) about the possibilities of diverse magnet schools. The survey of students touched on many of the same issues. In that survey, between 70% and 80% or more of all respondents supported the concept of such schools.
In this most recent survey, students also indicated strong support for the value of more diverse schools, including cross-district magnet schools offering unique specialized programs and instructional themes not otherwise available. Among the survey’s key findings:
- The overwhelming majority (88%) valued a culturally, socio-economically, and racially diverse student body.
- Nine out of ten students (90%) said attending a school where students are from different ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds will better prepare them for college or work in the future.
- Nearly all (93%) valued a curriculum based on solving real problems, and 90% valued access to a curriculum embracing racial, ethnic and cultural themes.
- Nearly three-fourths of students (72%) wanted their school to be more diverse, while only 1% said they’d like less diversity.
- Just under half of the students (45%) said they would consider enrolling in a diverse magnet school outside their home district if it offered a unique academic program not otherwise available. Another 39% were open to the idea but unsure, while relatively few (16%) were opposed to the idea.
- Levels of support for these concepts were generally relatively consistent across subgroups of students, but there were some differences on some issues that were worth noting:
- Younger students (in 9th and 10th grades), with more time to consider school choices in the future, were generally more open to possible changes than juniors and seniors.
- Female students generally placed somewhat more emphasis than males on the importance of diversity and a willingness to consider diverse magnet schools, though most differences were relatively small.
- There were relatively small differences among racial subgroups on most questions, although Asian students were somewhat more supportive of diverse schools, and Latinx and Black students were somewhat less interested in greater school diversity and magnet schools (though the majority of both groups were supportive overall).
- Most students in both city and suburban schools were supportive of increased diversity and diverse magnet schools, though support levels were typically highest among suburban students; in particular, urban students were considerably less likely to want their school to be more diverse (57% vs. 92% of suburban students) and were more likely to not consider attending a cross-district magnet school (19% urban vs. 11% suburban).
Attitudes expressed in this student survey reflect the findings of the recent report “No Time for Excuses: It’s Time for Action” by the Commission on Racial And Structural Equity (RASE) which stated, “Racism is deeply embedded in the culture and practices of Rochester and Monroe County. This declaration may shock some people, but it affirms what many others have been saying: the entire County of Monroe has a racial problem, one that is not contained within its largest municipality, Rochester. And it is a problem that must be fixed.” (Introductory letter, p. i)
Among the key RASE recommendations: “Establish a County/City policy for developing inter-district, integrated magnet schools for children and students from the city and suburbs. The City and the County to work together to close the county-wide school integration gap. A school integration policy would be the first step toward racial equity and accountability.” (p. 111)
For additional information about the survey, contact Tom Gillett through our contact page or phone him at (585) 733-0061.