I usually like to start my blogs with an anecdote, or something that kinda-sorta relates to the topic I ultimately talk about. But not today. Today, I’m just going to jump in.
Completely ignoring situations such as this (because I could go on for hours), Connecticut has a huge school problem. According to this article, 81.6 percent of Connecticut’s residents are white, 11 percent are black, and 14 percent are Latino.
That’s interesting because according to this New Yorker article, two-thirds of Connecticut’s black and Latino population are in segregated schools.
This graph, provided by the CT Mirror, shows that although segregation has decreased in the state, it’s still much too high.
This mass segregation is mostly due to white, affluent people who don’t want their children in schools with higher crime rates and the like — which, to be fair, I can at least see. It’s only natural to want the best for your child, but what some don’t understand is that sometimes providing the best for one person means closing the door for another. Researching this has made me think about my own high school, and experiences growing up.
You know what? I live in a very segregated area. You know it’s bad when the name of the study done after the place I live is called Heading in the Wrong Direction. The study described Long Island as one of the “most racially segregated regions in the country.”
And you know what? That’s absolutely correct. Out of around 1500 or so students in my high school, only a handful were black. And yet I could drive to neighborhoods where that statistic is completely reversed.
So the question is why is this happening? Because it seems that there are two sides to this story. The film Separate and Unequal tells the story of the racism and segregation faced in Baton Rouge. There is a pretty big class divide within the city, between predominantly white affluent people, and predominantly black poor people.
Due to desegregation, both go to the same high schools, as they should. However, the affluent parents want to split off, into a new town known as St. George, which would have included some of the schools in the previously integrated district. This means that the residents of St. George would go to the schools within that new district. …meaning that the majority of the student body will be affluent white students, and the majority of the student body in Baton Rouge will be everyone else.
Conduct like this is appalling – and should never be tolerated under any circumstance. – and yet here we are. Gary Orfield, co-director of The Civil Rights Project at UCLA was quoted in Separate and Unequal saying that if MLK came back today, he would see a school system that is more segregated than when he died. That really says something. Parents need to not focus solely on their own children, but rather on all children. Instead of pulling your kids out of the “bad” schools, fight to make the “bad” schools good so everyone has the same opportunities and we can finally stop this vicious cycle.
This is where you, dear reader, come in. Go to town hall meetings, question the segregation of your own districts, and try to enact change because children can’t fight for themselves.
By Andrew Wasserman