Economic Segregation? You decide...

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Economic Segregation? You decide...

July 22, 2008 - 00:19

Not to long ago, while researching some information on New Rochelle, we came across an interesting report out of Columbia University entitled Social Characteristics of New Rochelle:

In 1961, the city's Lincoln Elementary School was the focus of a landmark school desegregation battle. At the time, Lincoln was 94% black. Parents of eleven children sued the city because they were prevented from registering their children in city schools outside their district.

Does this sound familiar? Being denied transfer of your child from a South End school to a North End school? What do North End schools have that South End schools do not have? We do not believe that the issue of segregation in New Rochelle is as obvious today as it was then. Or maybe it is, and people still choose to ignore it. Some say that the Devil hides in the details. We can certainly tell you that that according to the 2005-2006 New York State Education Department School Report Cards 47.6% of the North End elementary school population is White. In contrast, only 21.6% of the South End elementary school population is White. Just another quick set of numbers. The same set of Report Cards shows that 27.3% of the North End elementary schools are eligible for free or reduced lunch. In sharp contrast, 61% of the South End elementary school population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. It would be interesting to see how these numbers have changed in the last couple of years with the availability of more current data.

We believe that these dynamics have a tremendous impact on the success of all the schools in New Rochelle. We would argue that the issue of economic segregation stands out as one of the issues that the Board of Education and the Superintendent of the City School District needs to pay close attention to. It is these inequities that pave the way for the erosion of the quality of the educational experience of all the children of New Rochelle.