achievement gap · School Integration

If This Is a Victory For Integration Then, Yup, I’m a Racist

I have been called a racist many, many times.

Because I don’t agree with the Mayor’s proposal to get rid of the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

Because I don’t think that sitting low-achieving students next to high-achieving students will magically raise test scores.

Because I think school rezoning is just a way to hide achievement gaps and because I don’t believe that poor and minority are synonyms for low-achieving.

Oh, and I also think that families should be able to pick their own schools. Yes, even minority families who dare turn down the magnanimous gift of becoming white people adjacent.

However, as of last week, I have accepted the fact that I am racist.

Because what’s just been touted as a great win for integration has left me… well, gob-smacked is an appropriate word. Let’s go with gob-smacked.

On Thursday, January 30, Chalkbeat reported:

A citywide educational panel on Wednesday night unanimously approved a proposal to move the Academy of Arts & Letters, a disproportionately white school in Fort Greene, into P.S. 305, a majority-black elementary school in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Some Arts & Letters parents and education experts praised the consolidation of the two District 13 schools, which will take effect next school year, calling it a positive move toward school integration….

P.S. 305 is a neighborhood pre-K through fifth grade school for kids living within a specific area near it.

Arts & Letters is a highly sought-after, lottery-based kindergarten- through eighth grade school drawing from students across the district, which also includes Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill.

Arts and Letters’ student body is 42% white — far above the 19% district-wide average for public schools. At P.S. 305, 66% of students are black, versus 50% district-wide. Some 94% of students enrolled at P.S. 305 are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, compared to 22% of Arts and Letters students, according to the DOE….

The new school will just be called Arts & Letters and PS 305 will no longer exist as an option beginning in the 2020-21 term.

For the first two years of the new combined school, children from low-income families currently zoned for P.S. 305 would get priority for half of the 40% of Arts and Letters’ seats already reserved for low-income students. After that, nearby residents would no longer get priority for those seats…

“We believe that by merging Arts & Letters and P.S. 305 we will be taking meaningful steps toward ending student segregations in our schools.”

Alright, bear with me here, folks and, please, somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but… does this or does this not say that:

  • A majority white rich school will be taking over a majority black, poor school?
  • The majority black school will cease to exist?
  • The children (and faculty and administration) of the majority black school will be expected to get with the program and assimilate into the culture of the larger, richer, whiter school?
  • For two years, children from the former catchment area will be given priority for 20% of the seats? 
  • The other 20% will go to poor children outside of the catchment area? 
  • 60% of seats will continue to be distributed by District-wide lottery, which is what led to the current school being 42% White and 22% Free or Reduced Price Lunch? (And while we are at it, can someone explain to me how a school that sets aside 40% of its seats for poor families still ended up with a little more than half of that in FRL enrollment? Never mind, I know. It’s the same at most unzoned schools.)
  • After two years, the local families will have NO priority whatsoever and, if not admitted via lottery, will need to travel to a school farther away from their homes?

So, to summarize, a rich, white school has basically kicked a poor, black school out of its space and soon most kids from the neighborhood will have to go elsewhere?

I am clearly missing something in this much touted victory for integration.

But, then again, I am a racist.

Do you understand what just happened? And why we should be happy about this?
To read about the status of similar plans in other districts, click here.

What do you think?

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