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September 2, 2014 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Ki Tetzei

“You must not plow with an ox and a donkey in the same team.” (Deut. 22:10).  Scharfstein has an interesting take on this: he reasons by analogy that people “should not be placed in situations, classrooms or teams in which they are outclassed either physically or intellectually.”

Interesting, but not totally persuasive.  Are children better off with children just like them, or with smarter children they can learn from?  There’s some expert opinion on the latter side. There are many American public schools full of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and they consistently yield dismal results.   Some experts argue that in more socially diverse schools, children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better even if they are outclassed.  

But well-off parents have voted with their feet against this type of integration.  When poorer children move into a school, the school quickly gets a bad reputation, and middle-class parents leave.  This happened as early as the 1950s when white parents started to flee racially integrated schools.  More recently, black middle-class parents have been fleeing socially integrated all-black schools.  Liberal-minded academics may disagree with Scharfstein, but parents are not interested in their opinions.  So for all practical purposes Scharfstein has won the argument. 


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