choosing a school for my daughter in a segregated city main idea
White residents used Federal Housing Administration-insured loans to buy their way out of the projects and to move to shiny new middle-class subdivisions. Najya, of course, had no idea about any of this. This was 1982, nearly three decades after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate schools for black and white children were unconstitutional, and near the height of desegregation in this country. When pressed about integration specifically for black and Latino students, Fariña said the city has been working to support schools that are seeking more diversity and mentioned a socioeconomic integration pilot program at seven schools. My mom was a probation officer, and my dad drove a bus, and most of my family members on both sides worked in factories or meatpacking plants or did other manual labor. 307. But gentrification overtook Dumbo, which hugs the East River and provides breathtaking views of the skyline and a quick commute to Manhattan. My husband, Faraji, and I wanted to send our daughter to public school. It had rarely been clearer to me how segregation and integration, at their core, are about power and who gets access to it. But I also believed that it is the choices of individual parents that uphold the system, and I was determined not to do what I’d seen so many others do when their values about integration collided with the reality of where to send their own children to school. Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City. 307 may eventually look similar. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”. The largely upper-middle-class and white and Asian children living directly across the street from P.S. Not surprisingly, the test scores of most of Bed-Stuy’s schools reflect the marginalization of their students. 307 were unaware of the turmoil and the battle lines adults were drawing outside the school’s doors. 307. I worried — I worry still — about whether I made the right decision for our little girl. Because Northern officials often practiced segregation without the cover of law, it was far less likely that judges would find them in violation of the Constitution. Robert McBeth, Gladys’s husband, drove a truck, while she stayed home raising their four children. Schools like P.S. Housing discrimination was legal until 1968. Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter covering racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine. Faraji, the oldest baby in a navy family, went to public colleges that served Army bases each in America and abroad. Before work, we peered into the classrooms of three neighborhood schools, and a fourth, Public School 307, located in the Vinegar Hill section of Brooklyn, near the East River waterfront and a few miles from our home. As I told Faraji my plan, he slowly shook his head no. The difference in black and white reading scores fell to half what it was in 1971, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. These children from the projects learned Mandarin, took violin lessons and played chess. As a reporter, I’d witnessed how the presence of even a handful of middle-class families made it less likely that a school would be neglected. But I have no doubt my parents’ decision to pull me out of my segregated neighborhood school made the possibility of my getting from there to here — staff writer for The New York Times Magazine — more likely. They continued to rent while many of their white neighbors bought homes and built wealth. The Board of Education appointed a commission to develop a citywide integration plan. The court determined that separate schools, even if they had similar resources, were “inherently” — by their nature — unequal, causing profound damage to the children who attended them and hobbling their ability to live as full citizens of their country. There cannot be racial equality until schools are truly desegregated. “It was most intense in the white neighborhoods closest to African-American neighborhoods, because they were the ones most likely to be affected by desegregation plans,” says Thomas Sugrue, a historian at New York University and the author of “Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North.” By the mid-’60s, there were few signs of integration in New York’s schools. 8 into the exclusive neighborhood school for Brooklyn Heights and reroute Dumbo and Vinegar Hill students to P.S. This carefully curated integration, the kind that allows many white parents to boast that their children’s public schools look like the United Nations, comes at a steep cost for the rest of the city’s black and Latino children.”. We are ready to do this. “It was always right in front of our faces,” says Lander, a representative from Brooklyn, whose own children attend heavily white public schools. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1967: “I cannot see how the Negro will totally be liberated from the crushing weight of poor education, squalid housing and economic strangulation until he is integrated, with power, into every level of American life.”, As the politicians looked on, two white fathers gave an impassioned PowerPoint presentation in which they asked the Department of Education to place more children into already-teeming classrooms rather than send kids zoned to P.S. 307 was a very different place from what it had been, but Najya was thriving. In fact, integration changes the entire trajectory of black students’ lives. “It all changed.”. The remedy for such segregation may be administratively awkward, inconvenient and even bizarre in some situations, and may impose burdens on some; but all awkwardness and inconvenience cannot be avoided.”. Without holding seats for low-income children, it’s not certain the school will achieve 50 percent low-income enrollment.


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