School Apartheid: Report finds NY schools are most segregated in the country

Stephon Johnson | 4/3/2014, 9:21 a.m.
A new study released by UCLA’s Civil Rights found that public school students in New York are the most severely ...

According to the study, statewide, the proportion of Latino and Asian students has nearly doubled from 1989 to 2010, as the exposure of those groups to white students continuously decreased. Concentration levels have also increased for Black students in segregated minority schools (i.e., where less than 10 percent of the student body is white) and Black students’ exposure to Latino students has significantly increased over the last 20 years. Almost 50 percent of public school students were low-income in 2010, but the typical Black or Latino student attended schools where close to 70 percent of classmates were low-income. The typical white student attended schools where less than 30 percent of classmates were low-income. 

Potential congressional candidate and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat sent a statement to the AmNews discussing how he found the report’s results “troubling.” 

“Today, I am calling on U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer to put fourth legislation that inhibits segregated schools and school districts from forming,” said Espaillat. “It is clear that Congress has failed to institute desegregation laws that protect our children. I represent a diverse immigrant district, and I know firsthand the daily struggle parents and teachers face. It is time that our city comes together as a unified voice to give our children fair and equal education. Segregation in education, housing, employment or in any aspect of our society is simply unacceptable and harmful to our future.”

When the AmNews reached out to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for comment, one of his spokespeople emphasized the administration’s current educational agenda as a means of alleviating the problems presented in Kuscera’s study.

“No education system works unless every child has opportunity,” said de Blasio spokesperson Marti Adams. “That’s why the mayor and chancellor are focused on big solutions that reach every school and every child—game-changers like full-day pre-K for every child and after-school for every middle schooler.”

A spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the AmNews they would respond to the study’s revelations, but no statement or reply was made by press time.

As for the report, some of the recommendations offered to remedy the situation include altering school choice plans to ensure a promotion diversity, supporting communities experiencing racial change by helping them create voluntary desegregation plans, and creating regional or interdistrict programs in urban and suburban areas.

“In the 30 years I have been researching schools, New York state has consistently been one of the most segregated states in the nation—no Southern state comes close to New York,” said Gary Orfield, co-director of UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, in a statement. “Decades of reforms ignoring this issue produced strategies that have not succeeded in making segregated schools equal. It is time to adopt creative school choice strategies to give more New York children an opportunity to prepare to live and work effectively in a highly multiracial state.”