White parents in Manhattan reacted with furious anger in response to a new plan for desegregating public schools on New York City’s Upper West Side–one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Manhattan.
Local media outlet Spectrum News NY 1 posted a video showing multiple parents at Public School 199 extremely upset about the new plan. One visibly angry parent shouts:
You’re talking about an 11-year-old, you worked your butt off, and you didn’t get that, what you needed or wanted. You’re telling them that you’re not going to go to a school that’s going to educate them the same way you’ve been educated. Life sucks! Is that what the DOE wants to say?
The newly-devised plan requires all local middle schools to reserve 25 percent of their seats for students who score below their respective grade level on standardized English and Math exams administered by the State of New York’s Department of Education.
While relying upon the above testing metrics, the plan is more accurately described as an effort to make schools on Manhattan’s Upper West Side more diverse–that is, less segregated–so that those schools will eventually reflect New York City’s broader demographics. Most schools in the area are currently overwhelmingly white.
Kristen Burger, an elected member of the Upper West Side Parent Council, described the genesis of and reasoning behind the plan. In comments to Spectrum News NY 1. She said:
District 3 currently has very segregated middle schools. The principals have expressed concern that under the blind ranking this may become worse. So, they are looking–and parents are looking–at mechanisms we can put into place to actually decrease the segregation and increase diversity in all of our schools.
Spectrum’s report continues, somewhat wryly noting, “But Tuesday’s meeting was at PS 199, one of the city’s whitest schools–with many students from wealthy families.”
Opposition to de-segregation from Upper West Side parents is nothing new. Two years ago a minor media kerfuffle occurred when it was revealed that two high-profile Upper West Side parents were opposed to similar desegregation measures: Comedy Central’s Samantha Bee and her husband Jason Jones–who is also a comedian and former Daily Show correspondent.
Twitter was aflame with outrage at the liberal Bee over her apparent hypocrisy, but the controversy barely made waves with most media outlets and things quickly died down–after Jones urged Upper West Side parents not to speak with the media about their opposition to de-segregation measures.
Now, those tensions appear to be bubbling over again.
For his part, PS 199’s principal Henry Zymeck isn’t happy with the fusillade of complaints over the new desegregation initiative. Zymeck defended the program and said parents’ opposition was upsetting.
Addressing those same parents at Tuesday’s meeting, he said, “There are kids that are tremendously disadvantaged. And to compare these students and say, ‘My already advantaged kid needs more advantage, they need to be kept away from those kids,’ is tremendously offensive to me.”
[image via screengrab/Spectrum News NY 1]