Behind the Headline: Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools

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Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools
New York Times | 9/23/15

Behind the Headline
The Elephant in the Classroom
Education Next| Winter 2013

As gentrification brings new families into many Brooklyn neighborhoods, some schools there are becoming overcrowded. Kate Taylor of the New York Times writes

To the city, the solution for the overcrowding at P.S. 8 seemed obvious: move those two neighborhoods from P.S. 8’s zone and into that of P.S. 307, which is nearby and has room to spare. The proposal, however, has drawn intense opposition, and not only from the families who would be rezoned from the predominantly white P.S. 8 to the mostly black P.S. 307. Some residents of the housing project served by P.S. 307 also oppose the rezoning, worried about how an influx of wealthy, mostly white families could change their school.

As Taylor notes

P.S. 307’s population is 90 percent black and Hispanic, and 90 percent of the students’ families receive some form of public assistance. Its state test scores, while below the citywide averages, are closer to average for black and Hispanic students, with 20 percent of its students passing the math tests and 12 percent passing the reading tests this past year. At P.S. 8, whose population is 59 percent white, with only 15 percent receiving assistance, scores are considerably above the city averages. Almost two-thirds of its students passed each test.

The article sheds a lot of light on why, as Taylor explains, “While redrawing school zones are, logistically, the simplest solutions to crowding and segregation, they are usually the most politically complex and thus are done relatively rarely.”


An article by Jennifer Burns Stillman in the Winter 2013 issue of Education Next, “The Elephant in the Classroom: Why is diversity so hard to manage?” takes a close look at the challenges of creating and running schools that are racially and socioeconomically integrated.

An earlier article, “All Together Now,” by Mike Petrilli, takes a close look at a highly diverse school that is working hard to satisfy all its customers and challenge all its students.

In “Diverse Charter Schools,” Alexander Russo writes about schools that are designed to attract families from very different backgrounds.

– Education Next


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