I’m guessing that many parents, particularly those of color whose children are consigned to a failing school, left a meeting last night on the Upper West Side deeply disappointed with New York City Chancellor Carmen Farina’s failure to meaningfully address public school segregation.
It’s the typical scenario: two schools, two worlds. P.S. 191 on West 61st Street enrolls children from a public housing complex. The enrollment, according to NYC DOE data, is almost entirely black and Hispanic; 71% of the children there qualify for free lunch. Academic performance is dismal. The New York Post reported in August that the school is considered one of the city’s “most dangerous,”, with 97 “violent and disruptive” incidents in 2013-14. These include four sex offenses, two arsons, 12 assaults with physical injury (four with weapons), 10 cases of bullying (eight with weapons), and dozens of “minor altercations.” This past April an employee in an afterschool program at 191 confessed to raping a 14-year old girl.
Several blocks away is P.S. 199, which is almost all white and Asian. Eight percent of students qualify for free lunch. According to the DOE, students there “exceed targets” in most academic measurements.
Fariña and Mayor Bill de Blasio have increasingly been called upon to address the city’s deeply entrenched school segregation by parents and advocates who point to the mayor’s vow to reign in inequality…[But at the meeting Fariña] declined to get behind alternative zoning proposals floated by parents, which they say would alleviate overcrowding while also doing more to integrate both schools.
“Parents make choices,” she told the crowd. “When you have choice, then parents have to decide what’s their biggest priority.”
A P.S. 199 parent named Ana Guillermo asked Fariña "what she was doing to address school segregation in the Upper West Side and across the city, said she was not satisfied “at all” with the response.
“She didn’t answer the question, actually,” Guillermo said, adding that the administration needs a clear plan to tackle segregation. “We live in a multicultural city, but the schools are not integrated.”
Various plans have been floated at various times to integrate the neighboring schools, either by creating a bigger catchment area, dividing students among three different schools, or creating a “super zone” among 191 and 199. But here’s the Chancellor’s primary concern:
Fariña said it raised logistical concerns, such as which teachers would be held accountable for students’ test scores.
So integration strategies are dead in the water because of accountability ratings? Apparently. We’ll retain an apartheid school structure because Farina prioritizes teacher evaluations over student academic growth and school integration.
Labels: de Blasio, farina, New York, tenure