Why are schools in America underfunded

US school systemRacial discrimination via aptitude test

"I don't know the white students who go to another school in our building. We are not allowed to talk to them."

Recently in the common room of the teachers' organization "Teach for America" ​​in Manhattan. About 50 members of the student organization "Teens Take Charge" share their experiences with racial segregation in New York schools. They are black, white, Latino, and Asian of descent.

"Our schools separate us from one another, but here we can exchange ideas about the injustices in our school system," said this student. He is not alone.

More and more students, parents and educators are committed to integrating New York’s 1,800 public schools; New York University offers a seminar for white parents who want to grapple with their own racism. A demonstration by more than 400 students in front of the New York Department of Education to fight for more integration attracted a lot of attention last June.

The slogan there: "What do we want? Integration. When do we want it? Now."

Whites go to the better schools

The background to the growing activism is that even 65 years after the Supreme Court officially abolished racial segregation in schools, 90 percent of black and Latino students still go to 900 schools in which less than 10 percent of students are white, says Taylor McGraw, an educator who started Teens Take Charge two years ago.

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The aim of his organization is to abolish the many admission procedures in primary, middle and high schools so that black and white children can learn together. According to McGraw, the tests are barriers to education because black and low-income Latino parents cannot afford private tuition to prepare their children for them.

"There should be a minimum of academic and socio-economic diversity in every school. It is not possible that all wealthy and high-performing children should go to the same school."

Children benefit from teaching together

Empirical studies have also shown that all children benefit when they are taught together: "The concept of bringing good and below-average students together works. The best in the class go to a good college anyway and the weaker students benefit from being with better students sitting in the same classroom. "

Michael Perlberg agrees. Four years ago, the school principal founded MS 839, a middle school in Brooklyn, which aims to reflect the multicultural diversity in its neighborhood.

His concept is simple: there is no entrance examination, the school places are awarded by lottery. 40 percent of the 300 places are also reserved for low-income students. Michael Perlberg:

"We have worked closely with teachers, students and parents to make it clear what an integrated school is like. Our curriculum is not Eurocentric, but integrates the rich experiences of all our families."

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Diversity without aptitude test

The success of his concept makes people sit up and take notice: Ten formerly segregated middle schools near MS 839 have been offering their sixth graders similar diversity plans since autumn: Applicants no longer need to submit test results in order to be accepted, parents and educators decided after long discussions.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is also pleased:

"The concept works because the community has a say in it."

But segregation remains a major problem. Because De Blasio is largely reluctant to discuss school integration. For example, he made no decision when the New York Department of Education proposed abolishing programs for talented and gifted students because only 18 percent of black or Latino students pass the proficiency test. They make up 70 percent of New York students.

"We need more elite schools so that we are not forced to split 5,000 places between 80,000 eighth graders and play one group against the other."

In the next four weeks alone, eight events will take place in which experts will think about how they can improve equal opportunities. Nobody believes that they will find a solution quickly.