The Fight For Integration

Busing Riot, Boston, 1965.


Recently the NYTimes published an article about how segregated NYC schools are. Interestingly enough, the charter network that I have been working for manages the school that has been designated as the most segregated school in the city. The school is comprised entirely of black students.

As part of the admissions team I have a fairly clear understanding of why the school is composed the way it is. Like most charter schools the admissions system operates on a lottery process, but it has a preference system in which students who live within the district are admitted before any other students who may have entered the lottery. So in this case the school really is a reflection of the neighborhood its located in. However in many instances, charters tend to be more racially segregated than the communities they’re located in. This is partly due to the fact that charters recruit low income students specifically in order to dispel the idea that they cherry pick students in order to raise their test scores. By matching the demographic numbers of neighboring schools they hope to prove their superiority.

The problem of segregation has been a persistent one. Jonathan Kozol, who I read for the first time when I was twelve, has been writing about the inequities built into our school system for years. Yet how do we solve the problem of segregated schools when it seems everyone has lost interest in integration as a worthy goal.

The picture above reminded me why so many are stalled on the idea of integration. Many white parents worry that their kids won’t get as good of an education if they’re forced to go to integrated schools, and many black parents were the children who were put on buses in the 70’s and 80’s. Who were met with scorn and disdain, and have no desire to put their own children through the same.

I don’t have the solutions yet but I was glad to see the issue of segregation in schools become a talking topic once again. I for one believe integration is still an important and worthy goal.





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