Quotas in the Classroom: Different Rights for Different Children in the Berlin Classroom Based on Citizenship, 1960s–90s

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 4:30 PM
Centennial Ballroom B (Hyatt Regency Denver)
Brittany R. Lehman, College of Charleston
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, the migrant and minority population with non-German citizenship expanded from two percent to ten percent of the resident population. As the number of schoolchildren grew, several of the state (Länder) Ministries of Education looked to the United State models for integration and discussed bussing children from sections of the city with large numbers of migrant and minority residents to other areas. Research suggested that non-native speakers integrated faster in classrooms with twenty percent or fewer non-German speakers. In Berlin, the Senate for Education briefly experimented with busing. In the 1980s, however, the Senate turned toward other options, arguing that the state needed to protect the rights of citizens. Claiming that German citizens had more of a right to education than non-nationals, the Berlin government limited the number of children with non-German citizens in the public classroom, putting the leftover children in separate rooms regardless of their place of birth or mother tongue. Exploring classroom segregation along citizenship lines, this paper argues that the differentiation of children in the classroom was part of a country wide process of othering that contributed to ongoing discrimination and social exclusion.
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