On the sixty-fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board decision, the National Coalition on School Diversity has released a new research brief by visiting scholar Linda Tropp (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Suchi Saxena. In their report, Tropp and Saxena discuss the importance of fostering sustained interracial contact between youth during elementary and secondary school. Their key findings and recommendations include:
- In order to prepare youth to thrive in a multiracial society, social science demonstrates the importance and value of increasing opportunities for youth from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to have sustained contact with one another.
- Fostering cross-racial friendships, implementing cooperative learning strategies, and promoting supportive norms in schools and among peers are some of the factors that are likely to enhance the positive effects of contact.
- Providing youth with opportunities to experience meaningful intergroup contact is especially important because children’s early life experiences can have long-term consequences for their developing intergroup attitudes and beliefs. It also helps to reduce anxiety about difference, builds capacity for empathy and caring about others, develops leadership competencies and plants seeds for social change.
- To foster effective interracial contact in schools, ensure that policies and practices make integrated classrooms and high-quality intergroup contact easy to achieve, and prioritize racially integrated classrooms and high-quality intergroup contact within the processes of teaching and learning.