Remembrance: Courtney Everts Mykytyn

Courtney at NCSD’s 2017 conference.

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) joins others across the country in offering a heartfelt remembrance of our beloved Steering Committee Member, Courtney Everts Mykytyn. Courtney died on December 30, 2019 after being struck by a car near her home in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was 46 years old.

In recent weeks, Courtney has been remembered by national and local news outlets, in the halls of Congress, by education advocates and scholars and, too, among our vast NCSD membership as an effective, creative, and intuitive advocate who urged white parents like herself to send their children to racially and culturally diverse public schools. Many of us at NCSD relied upon and admired Courtney for her insights and fortitude. Many of us also considered her a friend who was willing to challenge our thinking, engage in difficult conversations, and make us laugh. Courtney was warm, joyful, positive, and fiercely intelligent, truly one of a kind.

Through the nonprofit she founded in 2015, Integrated Schools, Courtney and her colleagues built community with other White parents inclined to reject higher-status homogeneous White institutions in favor of racially diverse schools. Courtney was dedicated to growing this grassroots movement “of, by, and for parents who are intentionally, joyfully, and humbly” enrolling their children in integrating schools. As important to Courtney as integrating schools, though, was the way in which White parents interacted with the institutions when they got there. Through a book club, a podcast, brokered one-on-one conversations and conference calls between parents, Courtney and her colleagues also directly addressed the historic tendency of White parents to take over leadership in majority Black and/or Latinx schools. Also problematic, Courtney believed, was a common “white savior” complex in which White parents view themselves as rescuers of the school as opposed to new partners in an established community.

Anna Lodder, a board member of Integrated Schools, recently told the New York Times that at least several hundred white parents had been influenced by the organization to place their children in predominantly Black and Latinx schools.

In a 2019 article for the Hollywood Reporter, Courtney wrote: “Choosing an integrating school is not so much a sacrifice as it is reprioritizing what matters in building a world we want our children to be adults in.”

Courtney and her husband Roman initially enrolled their two children in a dual-language program at their neighborhood school where instruction is offered in both English and Spanish, with the goal of all children becoming bilingual. She later enrolled them in their neighborhood schools through middle and high school, with just a small handful of white students.

“More than anyone else in L.A. over the past decade, Courtney moved parents from ‘I’d like to send my kid to my neighborhood school, but… .’ to ‘I am sending my kid to my neighborhood public school,’” Steve Zimmer, a former president of the Los Angeles Unified School District, told the Los Angeles Times.

On January 14, U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) offered condolences on the House floor:

“Courtney understood the consequences of segregation for children and our democracy.  She often spoke about how segregation undermines our core American ideals of fairness and equality and worked tireless to help fulfill the promise of Brown v. Board of Education,” Scott said. “Courtney emphasized that integrating schools was not about sacrifice, but instead about a commitment to strengthening our democracy and building a better society.  I hope advocates and families continue her legacy and commitment of fighting for school integration.  Further, I challenge this body to honor Courtney’s legacy in the months and years to come by taking the necessary actions to support and advance school integration.”

In addition to her husband Roman, Courtney is survived by her mother, J. Paulette Westfall, her son, Stephan, and daughter, Lulu, who are now teenagers; and her brother, Christof Ian Everts.

The National Coalition on School Diversity will formally honor Courtney’s legacy at its National Conference in March.

Reflections from NCSD Members:

  • Remembering Courtney Everts Mykytyn (Matt Gonzales, NYU Metro Center blog)
  • Courtney Everts Mykytyn: Forever in the fight (Peter Piazza, School Diversity Notebook)
  • “Courtney was so vital, both as a person and to the movement for school integration. Her voice and force is already missed.” — Professor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
  • “Courtney’s leadership in this movement helped sustain and push me, and I am missing her deeply.” — Gina Chirichigno, National Coalition on School Diversity
  • “I didn’t have an opportunity to experience Courtney and her work directly, but she and the work looked amazing. I was so looking forward to working with her on the steering committee.” — Elaine Gross, Erase Racism NY + NCSD Steering Committee Member
  • “I remain shocked and deeply saddened by Courtney’s passing, and I’m not sure that feeling will ever really go away. I think about her often in my work and life, trying to live up to the standards she set for critical self-reflection, sharp social commentary, and genuine warmth.” — Peter Piazza, School Diversity Notebook

Integrated Schools:

  • Tragedy strikes the Integrated Schools family (statement and subsequent podcast by Andrew Lefkowits)
  • Hellos and Goodbyes (Anna Loder, Integrated Schools blog)
  • My friend is dead, but don’t call her a hero (Courtney Martin, Integrated Schools blog)
  • If you would like to share a voice memo with Integrated Schools with your reflections about Courtney and her work, please email them to Andrew Lefkowits at hello@integratedschools.org.

Remembrances:

NCSD in the News: Steering Committee Member Matt Gonzales Profiled in Marin Independent Journal

New York advisers aid Marin City school desegregation effort
by Keri Brenner
December 29, 2019 (updated December 30, 2019)
Marin Independent Journal

“Two leaders in educational equity from New York City have joined the advisory group working on a desegregation plan for the Sausalito Marin City School District.

The consultants are Matt Gonzales, director of the Integration and Innovation Initiative at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, and Zarith Pineda, founder of the independent organization Territorial Empathy. They met this month with the local advisory group formed to comply with the state attorney general’s settlement order in August to desegregate the district’s TK-8 school, Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy in Marin City, within five years.

‘Our interest is really to help create some coherence between the unification work, the comprehensive plan that’s required by the AG’s office, as well as the local control accountability plan,’ Gonzales said during a visit in Marin City. ‘All of these things hopefully will fit and work together.’

The district also oversees a K-8 charter school, Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito, which is intertwined with the desegregation plan and a parallel effort to unify the two schools. It has not been decided whether the unified school would be a traditional public school or a charter school.

‘Dr. Gonzales is a leader in desegregation efforts nationwide through his work as part of the National Coalition on School Desegregation [sic] as well as his work desegregating schools in New York City,’ Sausalito Marin City School District Superintendent Itoco Garcia said in a text message. ‘Zarith is an expert on urban planning and architecture and offers expertise in the areas of desegregation as it relates to housing, urban planning and school desegregation and has worked with Dr. Gonzales in NYC.'”

Matt Gonzales is a long-time NCSD member, and serves on NCSD’s steering committee.

SAVE THE DATE: March 26 - 27, 2020

#NCSD2020

Save the date: March 26 – 27, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

We’re in conference planning mode, and collecting ideas about speakers and themes.

For inquiries please email conferenceNCSD@gmail.com.

Donate

You can contribute to the National Coalition on School Diversity’s work through the Poverty and Race Research Action Council.

Donate via Paypal or credit/debit card using the button below:


Or, send your check or money order made out to PRRAC to:

National Coalition on School Diversity
c/o Poverty & Race Research Action Council
740 15th Street NW, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20005

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is a network of national civil rights organizations, university-based research centers, and state and local coalitions working to expand support for government policies that promote school diversity and reduce racial and economic isolation in elementary and secondary schools. We also support the work of state and local school diversity practitioners. Our work is informed by an advisory panel of scholars and academic researchers whose work relates to issues of equity, diversity, and desegregation/integration.

Epic Theatre Ensemble Performance (11/4/19 - Baltimore, MD)

Monday, November 4, 6-7pm
MICA Center for Social Design
131 W. North Avenue, Room 171

“Nothing About Us” is a rigorous, passionate and hilarious exploration of educational segregation written and performed by those most affected and least consulted: NYC Public High School students. What does separate but equal mean to us today? Transformation, empathy, and youth voice drive the conversation in this thirty-minute touring play.

https://www.epictheatreensemble.org/

Hill Briefing: How School Diversity Matters (11/14/19)


Learning Policy Institute Congressional Briefing- “Separate and Unequal: How School Investment and Integration

On November 14, 2019, we will be partnering with the Learning Policy Institute and the Stanford Graduate School of Education and Center for Education Policy Analysis to present the congressional briefing Separate and Unequal: How School Diversity Matters for Educational Opportunity and Attainment.” 

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. The briefing will start promptly at 9:00 a.m. Breakfast will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Tuesday, November 12, 2019.

When: November 14th at 9:00am (light breakfast at 8:30am)

Where: Russell Senate Office Building
2 Constitution Ave, NE
Kennedy Caucus Room
Washington, DC 20002

Remarks by

  • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH-11)

Speakers

  • Linda Darling-Hammond, President, Learning Policy Institute
  • Rucker Johnson, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy
  • Sean Reardon, Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education, Stanford University

Background

Despite a large body of research showing that school desegregation benefits all students, there is a persistent-but-misguided belief that school segregation doesn’t matter. This briefing will share the research on how school segregation affects student achievement, why school desegregation benefits all students, and what policies can most effectively support school integration.

More than half a century after the passage of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the nation’s schools are becoming increasingly segregated by race and income, with students of color and students concentrated in high poverty schools with less access to the high-quality resources and opportunities that all children need to succeed and become contributing members of society. During this briefing, speakers will discuss:

  • New findings from the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University, a study of more than 7,500 school districts in the United States documenting the large racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in educational opportunities and success and the role of segregation in those disparities.
  • Findings from the recently published Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works, which used longitudinal data going back to the 1960s and found that school integration efforts in the 1970s and 1980s were overwhelmingly successful in improving outcomes both in school and later in life.
  • The role of state school finance reforms and federal investments in addressing inequities in educational opportunities and increasing school integration.

 

 

Become an NCSD Member


NCSD membership is open to organizations that have demonstrated or are willing to demonstrate a commitment to racial and economic school integration in the United States.


Once you fill out the application form and sign the accompanying Membership Statement, the NCSD Steering Committee will consider your candidacy. The steering committee meets four times a year, so it may take up to three months for a final decision. If you wish to follow up with us, please email Gina Chirichigno at gchirichigno@prrac.org.


Thinking About Applying for Membership to NCSD?

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) engages in research, public education, and advocacy to help expand support for government policies that promote school diversity and reduce racial and socioeconomic isolation. Members are invited to participate–consistent with their organization’s ability and designation–in NCSD’s advocacy efforts, which include, but are not limited to: legislative advocacy, administrative advocacy (e.g. communicating with departments of education and other non-legislative government agencies/bodies), and civil rights litigation at the district, local, state, and national levels.

Membership is free and open to individuals and organizations that meet specific criteria, which is described below. In lieu of the annual membership dues that most national organizations require, NCSD requests that members make a voluntary contribution (consistent with an organization’s capacity) to its bi-annual conference. You can learn more about our past conferences at https://school-diversity.org/conferences.


The Benefits of Joining NCSD

Membership in NCSD provides opportunities to:
  • Meet, learn from, connect with, and build alliances among our ever-growing, dynamic network made up of people and organizations committed to creating, sustaining, and improving equitable and diverse schools in the United States
  • Access members-only conference calls that provide up-to-date information and insights about research, practice, and policy work in the field
  • Amplify your work through our newsletter, which is disseminated to a network of 5,000+ integration supporters nationwide
  • Connect with a community of peers when you have questions or are looking for information and allies to strengthen your work
  • Lend your voice and perspectives on school integration with local and national media
  • Express support and contribute your skills to NCSD’s many advocacy efforts and campaigns at local, state, and national levels
  • Receive public recognition of your membership and activities on our website and our conference materials


What We Ask of Members

  • A contribution, consistent with your organization’s capacity, to our bi-annual conference
  • Keep NCSD reasonably informed about your organization’s integration-related work
  • Public support for NCSD’s work. This could include publicizing our written products, webinars, or events and supporting NCSD’s advocacy efforts, as appropriate
  • Recognition of your affiliation with NCSD, e.g. on your website or when speaking at education conferences and similar events
  • We strongly encourage collaboration and communication between members, in order to inform, enhance, amplify, and better understand each other’s work
  • Be welcoming, inclusive, and curious about other NCSD members and their work. This might include amplifying and supporting fellow members’ work through social media, issuing invitations to members to be on panels, or simply by connecting by phone or in-person to learn about each other’s work
  • Make efforts to connect with fellow members when visiting, presenting, and/or attending events in other cities
  • Particularly if you are experienced in the field, with status and connections to opportunities and knowledge, encourage and support emerging practitioners, researchers, and advocates dedicated to this important work
  • That you sign our Membership Statement (you must have the proper authority to submit an application on your organization’s behalf).

Please note: NCSD is not accepting applications from individual schools at this time. Instead, we encourage you to connect with some of the following members and partners, which are better positioned to provide support and guidance to schools:

 

APPLY NOW


To find out more about becoming an NCSD member organization, feel free to contact us:

Gina Chirichigno
Director
The National Coalition on School Diversity
gchirichigno@prrac.org

Philip Tegeler
Executive Director
The Poverty & Race Research Action Council
ptegeler@prrac.org

Also, refer to our strategic plan for more details about our work.

Event 9/19: The Lines Between Us: At School and At Home

***A livestream of the event will be available via PRRAC’s Facebook page.***

We are excited to partner with the Poverty and Race Research Action Council on “The Lines Between Us: At School and At Home” on September 19, 2019.

We will welcome Lawrence Lanahan, author of the new book The Lines Between Us, a story of two families in Baltimore set against the background of decades of segregation and the evolution of the landmark Thompson v. HUD public housing desegregation case.  Lawrence Lanahan will be joined by Cara McClellan from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and journalist J. Brian Charles.

The panel discussion will be held in PRRAC’s event space at 740 15th St. NW. Refreshments will be available at 5:30pm, and the discussion will start at 6:00pm.

Register here for this free event.

Who: Lawrence Lanahan, Cara McClellan, and J. Brian Charles
What: 
“The Lines Between Us: At School and At Home” 
Where: PRRAC offices – 740 15th St. NW
When: September 19th at 6:00pm (refreshments at 5:30pm)
Why: To explore interconnections between segregation in housing and schools

RAP Members in the News: "‘Do You Support Busing?’ Is Not the Best Question" in NYT

‘Do You Support Busing?’ Is Not the Best Question
by Emily Badger
July 6, 2019
The New York Times

NCSD Research Advisory Panel members Genevieve Siegel-Hawley and Erica Frankenberg were quoted in this article, following Kamala Harris and Joe Biden’s exchange about busing on the Democratic debate stage.

“But historically, the defendants in most school desegregation cases were school districts and school boards, and so courts had no power to demand fixes that might have affected the housing market.

That placed outsized expectations on busing that would be the same today, and raises another question: ‘Why was the burden of undoing centuries of discrimination and segregation placed solely on schools?’ said Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies the relationship between schools and housing.”

“George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father and the secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Nixon administration, argued for witholding federal money from communities that blocked housing for lower-income and minority families, rather than just transporting African-American children to schools in such places. But President Nixon halted the idea.

‘That could have been a really different turning point in terms of how we think about school desegregation, but also about our neighborhoods,’ said Erica Frankenberg, a professor of education at Penn State.”

This article also references NCSD’s statement regarding the proposed Strength in Diversity Act:

“Some of these choices would have to be made locally. But the federal government could offer grants to entice districts and states willing to make them.”

Ifill: The Same Myths That Thwarted Busing Are Keeping School Segregation Alive

Opinion: The Same Myths That Thwarted Busing Are Keeping School Segregation Alive
by Sherrilyn Ifill
July 5, 2019
Slate