Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Class/Race Segregated School Could Further Widen Education Gap

Source: The NY Times
According to this article, in Brooklyn, New York, the Public School 8 (P.S. 8) is overcrowded, and there is a proposition to rezone students to the Public School 307 (P.S. 307). The opposition in this comes from the fact that P.S. 8 is predominately wealthy, white students, and P.S. 307 is predominately black and hispanic students.
P.S. 307 is underfunded as 90% of the students receive public aid. The pass rate for the state test scores are also below the city's average. There are multiple reasons for the opposition of rezoning students to P.S. 307:
1. Rezoning affluent, white students could change the school. Though there are benefits to this such as more funding, it could change the dynamics of the school and could lead to less representation of the African-America and Hispanic kids of the school. Also, they are worried about a non-challenging environment.
2. Rezoning the African-American and Hispanic students (majority low-income) could continue the cycle of underfunding and low test scores. Those students at P.S. 8 don't want to give up being in a better school. Also, this would perpetuate segregation.
3. P.S. 307 is also in a more low-income neighborhood, so parents don't want to send their students there.
And, according to that same article, "research has found that minority students who attend integrated schools perform better academically and go on to earn higher incomes and have better health than minority students who attend segregated schools." 
You can imagine a myriad of other reasons that come along with this issue. However, as stated in this article, the education and opportunity gap is widening between affluent children and less-priveleged children. Effects of slavery and the Civil War and Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement still affect most African-Americans today as the cycle of low-income continues to be a very pervasive issue in their lives. Living in a low-income neighborhood often means an underfunded school, leading to a less rigorous curriculum. This in turn leads the students to fall behind the more affluent students. Also, a college degree is increasingly becoming a "precondition" for "upward mobility."
Given these statistics and circumstances, what do you think should be done about the rezoning of the schools? What efforts do you think should be made to close the achievement and education gap? What do you think can be done specifically for the lower-income minorities... is affirmative action serving its purpose? Is affirmative action doing enough?


Sameer Jain said...

From the images, the students look like pretty young children, so I'm going to assume that the two schools in this situation are elementary schools.

I think that affirmative action for colleges is not as effective as it ought to be. As demonstrated by the case in this article, there is still a very notable disparity in opportunity for affluent people and minorities. Either affirmative action needs to be strengthened or completely removed and replaced with a new system.

That being said, I don't think that both affirmative action and school rezoning should be happening at the same time. While it is important to provide opportunity for affected children, it should not reach a point where the affluent children are put at a severe disadvantage in the job market/education system. School rezoning seems like an interesting alternative if affirmative action is removed from the college admissions process. This may be more effective because it provides a better education for minorities early on rather than in post-high school life.

hlo323 said...
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hlo323 said...

I think that the rezoning of schools does need to be done, not necessarily for the purpose of affirmative action, but because as stated in the article, PS 8 is overcrowded, so one of the solutions to this problem is to move some students over to PS 307. In terms of closing the achievement and education gap, I don't think that affirmative action in colleges is necessarily that effective because I think that income level/class has a larger effect on the achievement gap than race does, although race and class are definitely correlated. Affirmative action also mostly targets higher education, but in primary and secondary education, students at low-income schools with little funding, who are often minorities, aren't able to receive the same resources and support as kids from schools with better funding and resources, so they face more obstacles even getting to the point where they could considerably benefit from affirmative action. I think a better solution could be to focus the efforts of closing the education gap on providing better funding and support for low-income schools.

Monica Mai said...

Huayu, you bring up a great point. We must start from the bottom up and improve the system at its roots. Closing the education cap will have a rippling effect and allow for fairer competition that's more effective than affirmative action. Regarding the article's proposed solution and your agreement to this solution, how will they decide who to rezone? Can everyone be happy with the decision? I don't think everyone will be pleased unless there is better funding for P.S. 307.