Four years ago the Civil Rights Project at UCLA issued a report,
New York has the most segregated schools in the country: in 2009, black and Latino students in the state had the highest concentration in intensely-segregated public schools (less than 10% white enrollment), the lowest exposure to white students, and the most uneven distribution with white students across schools. Heavily impacting these state rankings is New York City, home to the largest and one of the most segregated public school systems in the nation.
How is it possible? New York City and State are progressive, the first state to pass a Marriage Equality law, the strictest gun control laws in the nation, a far left progressive mayor, a governor who has just been dipped in the baptismal pool of progressivism, perhaps, not voluntarily, by Preacher Cynthia.
Who is the villain? Who segregated schools in a progressive city? It must be that evil “gentrification;” those millennials paying thousands of dollars in rents or millions buying apartments in high rise building replacing older rent controlled buildings; chasing people of color into tighter and tighter ghettoes.
Of course millennial dollars are creating jobs and paying taxes that pay for the city services we all enjoy.
The researchers, Nicole Mader and others uncovered fascinating datasets. The creation of numerous programmatic choices in schools across the city have played major roles in the increasing the segregation of schools.
… while most kindergartners continue to attend their zoned schools, it’s a surprisingly narrow and shrinking majority. Only 60 percent of New York City kindergartners attended their zoned schools in the 2016-17 school year, the last year for which complete enrollment figures are available. That’s down from 72 percent in 2007-08. This explosion of school choice means that more than 27,000 kindergarten students leave their school zones every morning to attend charter schools, schools with gifted classes, dual language programs (with instruction in two languages), and traditional public schools for which they are not zoned.
Blaming gentrification is simply shifting the blame; a tweet from NYAppleseed hits the nail on the head,
A careful and comprehensive review of data by The Center for NYC Affairs drives the death knell into the myth of school segregation in NYC being caused entirely by residential segregation (@ NYApppleseed)
The panelists, NYS Chancellor Betty Rosa, Department of Education Diversity Task Force chair Maya Wiley, also a New School professor, two other scholars and a parent association president who is also a District 3 school board member chatted. The elephant in the room: why were parents making choices to move their kids away from zoned schools? For me, the answer is simple; parents are more concerned with the perceived well-being of their children than the issue of school integration. The packed auditorium, the entire panel, all were strong advocates for policies supporting school integration, clearly, 40% of parents, are not.
The PA president’s school is in the lower part of Harlem, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood; however white parents are opting to send their children to other schools. The PA president praised his school, parent involvement, an excellent, caring staff, a range of programs; however, with only a few mouse clicks data dashboards for every school in the city are readily accessible. The data for the PA president’s school (See dashboard here ) is mediocre, according to the data.
Schools are far more than charts and graphs, far more than scores on standardized tests, yes, parents should check schools in person; however, data tells a story.
Last fall Chalkbeat held a forum on the high school admission process, a presentation by the Department and a large panel: school leaders, teachers, parents and students. One parent bemoaned, “Why aren’t there more ‘good schools?’” I asked her to define a “good school,” she had trouble defining, I asked, “A school with kids like your daughter?” She agreed. Did she mean the same race as her daughter? Did she mean with good grades? Did she mean the range of courses? Defining a “good school” can be complex, or, easy,
I was at the Mets game a few days ago (No Mets comments, please), chatting with the guy sitting behind me, he wanted to get his son into a particular public school, “Took some investigation, a friend made some phone calls, we got him in.”
The Bloomberg/Klein administration created a wide range of special programs, part of the portfolio strategy, a marketplace approach. The unintended result: to further segregate schools, to create a swath of underutilized school buildings in the poorest sections of the city and overcrowded “whiter” schools, high demand schools and programs within schools. No, Betsy DeVos did not design the plan, school choice is alive and well in the Apple.
Of the 32 geographic school districts in New York City only three are involved in a rezoning process (District 3: Upper West Side, District 1: Lower East Side and District 15: Brownstone Brooklyn), and there is pushback within the three districts. The plans are versions of controlled choice and blind choice school integration plans. Will the courts support or reject plans that reserve formerly white seats for Black youngsters?
Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio have implied that plans must originate from the school boards (called Community Education Councils); I don’t believe other school boards are engaged in discussing integration plans.
When the moderator asked the panelists whether they believed the city would move forward with a citywide integration initiative task force chair Wiley explained: the 40-members task force had to sort through public comment and recommend a plan/policy by December. Was Wiley hopeful? She called herself, a “possibilist.”
What started as a dispute involving two schools in the Upper West Side (PS 191 and PS 195) last year has become a citywide issue that could define the new chancellor: Will integration plans have to emanate from local schools boards (CECs) or will the chancellor create a citywide plan and back away from the current choice options? Will the mayor risk alienating the 40%, the predominately white parents taking advantage of public/charter school choice?
Remember, only 14.7% of kids in New York City schools are white: the breakdown is 45% Hispanic, 25% Black, and 15% Asian. How many schools have to integrated to satisfy the integration advocates? Is the school integration-segregation controversy a lose-lose?
There is little discussion of what happens within integrated schools: Are the classes within the school heterogeneous? Are the staffs integrated? Are the parent associations integrated? And getting back to that parent who spoke of “more good schools,” why can’t more “selective” schools be located in communities of color?
And, never forget, every decision has political implications, in the city, and, across the country.