The basics of desegregation are simple. It just takes will. NYC’s gifted and talented programs and the specialized high schools are some the most segregated classrooms in the City. And despite a plethora of studies and plans, little has changed in recent years.
The most exclusive public schools, the gateways to real mobility, have largely excluded low income students of color. One simple change in admission could change this.
What if we reserved 40% of spots in our best schools for low income or historically underserved “minority” students? That’s what the Brooklyn School of Inquiry is doing as described in an Atlantic article, and I think that’s a more hopeful approach than anything else NYC has tried.
And why not something like that in Oakland, CA – saving 40% or 50% of seats at high performing schools or in high performing programs for low income students, historically disadvantaged minorities, and maybe other disadvantaged groups, like foster kids or newcomers?
And as I have written before, and more amazingly, district staff have floated the idea of capping segregation at individual sites as a matter of enrollment. We could change the game by changing the rules of student assignment.
Really, why not?
Oakland can become a leader in integration, but this won’t happen by itself. It’s up to us. The current rules, differential access based on family resources, and patterns of individual choice are contributing to a toxic segregated stew in our schools.
Time to throw out the old recipes and write some new ones.
(This post originally appeared in Dirk Tillotson’s Great School Voices.)