In the News: Prep for Prep and the Fault Lines in New York’s Schools

The New Yorker has a long and fascinating look at Prep for Prep, a New York-based program that selects minority students for scholarships to highly selective private schools. The article, “Test Case,” is by Vinson Cunningham, who is a graduate of the program.

Cunningham mentions Anthony Abraham Jack’s book The Privileged Poor, which was reviewed for Education Next by Mathew Chingos under the headline “Campus Culture Shock.”

Chingos wrote, “Jack’s organizing distinction is between the ‘privileged poor’ of the book’s title—who attended elite private high schools on scholarship—and their ‘doubly disadvantaged’ peers, who attended under-resourced public schools. The privileged poor arrive on campus having already learned how to navigate elite institutions and to coexist with peers from both poor and wealthy families…At the same time, the privileged poor cannot escape the fact that they are poor.”

The New Yorker article traces Prep for Prep’s origins back to the clash between New York Mayor John Lindsay and teachers union leader Albert Shanker over “community control” over the Ocean Hill-Brownsville district in New York, and to the teacher strikes that followed.

As the New Yorker recounts it:

Gary Simons, the son of a housepainter and a homemaker, had just been hired as a teacher at P.S. 140, an elementary school in the Bronx, his home borough. When the strike reached the Bronx, he was living with a roommate about a half hour north of the school, in the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Riverdale. As the days passed, he noticed that teachers in Riverdale and other rich areas were convening in synagogues, churches, and community centers, continuing to educate their students, albeit unofficially. In the South Bronx, the schools were simply closed.

“That bothered me,” Simons said recently….

Nathan Glazer wrote about the strikes in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Glazer’s review for Education Next of Richard Kahlenberg’s biography of Albert Shanker, Tough Liberal.

— Education Next

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