This week, we looked at the impact of economic disparities, residential segregation, and gentrification on the demographics and resource allocation of the city’s schools. We talked to principals and teachers committed to not letting classism push out the most underserved students in their communities.
New York City has one of the most segregated school districts in America, as highlighted in a 2014 report released by the UCLA Civil Rights Project. More than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, the city’s 1.1 million students face a separate AND unequal school system—and they’re starting to do something about it. Students in the Bronx and Harlem, organized through Integrate NYC 4 Me, are researching, documenting, and speaking out about the inequities they face every day.
They’re asking: Why does that school less than a mile away have 15 sports teams, and ours has none? Why does that school have numerous AP class offerings, and we don’t have any? Why do those students get fresh meals prepared by cooks, and we have twice-microwaved frozen meals? And so forth. The students are finding issues they care about and articulating them in their own words. It’s inspiring—and we need more of this.
Zip code, race, income—these things shouldn’t determine a young person’s access to educational opportunities. Separate and unequal isn’t working.