Years ago when I chaired my academic department, a faculty woman came to my office in tears. She informed me that she desperately needed a raise. I asked why. She replied that she had to move. I asked why. Amidst the tears, she explained how the city had redistricted the schools and that her children would now be attending a mostly Black elementary school.
Now, keep in mind, that this woman was probably the most Liberal, Left, Progressive member of my faculty. She was an outspoken proponent of “diversity,” hiring along gender and racial lines, etc. But here she was, crying, in my office, begging for a raise so that she could move to a new home in a district with a mostly White school population.
For her, “diversity” was wonderful, but only if it didn’t impact her.
About an hour later, our lone Black faculty member came to my office. He was upset. I asked why. He explained that he had overheard the woman whose office was next to his (that’s right, the woman who came to me asking for a raise) complaining about how here kids would have to go to a mostly Black school. He started in on this woman for her utter and blatant hypocrisy and explained that he’d never take her seriously again.
Anyone laboring under the delusion that New York City is a progressive bastion need look no further than the city’s school system, which remains among the most segregated in the country.
In an effort to fight that trend, which has only gotten worse thanks to gentrification, rising income and wealth inequality throughout the city’s five boroughs, schools on the Upper West Side—one of the wealthiest and whitest sections of Manhattan—are looking to adopt a plan that would require all local middle schools to reserve a quarter of their seats for students who score below grade level on state English and math tests.
The plan is designed to make Upper West Side schools more reflective of New York City’s diverse demographics, and make sure underprivileged students have access to the sorts of advantages and resources that the neighborhood’s well-funded schools can provide.
Well, that plan didn’t go over so well in a room full of wealthy white parents.
Local TV station Spectrum News NY1 captured footage of a contentious meeting during which rich, white Manhattanites shouted, ranted and complained about the perceived disadvantages their children would face.