Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not fooled — not even for a minute.
And if some of you didn’t shut down your MLK studies immediately after reading his “I Have a Dream” speech, you wouldn’t be so surprised that members of the White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie class in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, New York have a problem with their children attending a predominantly African descendant elementary school, as sanctioned by the NYC Department of Education.
The problem began, as the New York Times tells the story, when the growth of the DUMBO outpaced the capacity of Public School 8 — the predominantly white neighborhood elementary school — to accommodate additional students. Therefore, the NYC Department of Education — under the reasoning that the current zoning rules are outdated — decided to create a new schema and assign a large portion of Dumbo’s footprint to the domain of PS 307, a predominantly African descendant school, located near the 10-tower public housing development named Farragut Houses.
And the White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie families are having fits over the decision.
I don’t necessarily think the Times properly explained the story, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
On the surface, the concerns of the White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie class are worth noting.
They cite the test scores of PS 8, the school they really want their children to attend, and the relatively weak scores of PS 307 as the reason for why they never considered the latter as a serious option, if not a socially destructive one.
However, scores don’t tell the entire story. To the surprise of many, PS 307 features classes PS 8 doesn’t have, with Mandarin Chinese and Pre-K instruction being representative examples.
And while folks are still clutching their pearls, they aren’t telling you that PS 8’s state of bursting at the seams has been no surprise to nearby residents. In fact, there’s a waiting list for White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie families who want their children to enroll in PS 8 — even though these families have had the PS 307 enrollment option available to them all along, inclusive of the time window prior to the Department of Education’s desegregation proposal.
According to PTA leaders from PS 307, who are people of color, almost no parent from DUMBO’s White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie class even inquired about what PS 307 — which is a short walk away from PS 8 — has to offer.
All of which leads me to bluntly say that the same I Support Hillary people who benefit from tax cuts supposedly designed to make all of our lives better; smile in your face and say “I voted for Obama too;” and view voter ID laws in the red states with disgust, need to start swallowing their own vomit.
An aside to Conservatives — don’t hijack my post as yet another Brother who’s unhappy with Liberals. Like I tell my friends all the time: “Conservatives like to say ‘Hell no,’ while Liberals like to say ‘Yeah, but …'”
And if this PS 8/307 drama plays out the same way other instances of modern NYC gentrification have, the White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Techie/Creative class will have problems taking a back seat as a minority where positions of school leadership do not look like them.
People of color have a different issue, although they’re also not happy about the proposed redistricting plan. They’ve seen a consistent stream of social cleansing in neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Bushwick, Prospect Heights, Greenpoint, Crown Heights and many other NYC communities where they view the Department of Education’s redistricting plan as the beginning of the end of their community as well.
After all, how many times have New Yorkers heard rumors about the Farragut Houses being stripped of its public housing status and sold to luxury developers as a virtual extension of DUMBO?
And Dumbo’s continued expansion makes the concept of a Farragut Houses transition a matter of time, through the lens of natives.
But this school redistricting story is only an episode in a larger theme of how New York City’s economic amd social apartheid has inculcated nearly every aspect of living, including the models for children’s futures.
When one of the most expensive cities in America also has one of the nation’s greatest manifestations of income inequality and one of the most egregious instances of housing segregation (and see this), who can be surprised to hear that NYC also has one of the nation’s most segregated school systems?
And who needs “Whites only” or “Exclusively for the Rich” signs hanging in front of buildings when federal, state and local government policies move beyond semaphoric Jim Crowisms to make segregation as seamless as oxygen?
All of which explains why the current attitudes of DUMBO’s White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie class don’t surprise me.
Here’s a more systemic question: knowing that 90% of PS 307’s students receive public assistance — as well as the strong correlation between poverty and school performance — why is there no active discussion to fix the problem of poor families in the Farragut Houses and elsewhere through relevant jobs training, financial literacy and other wealth-building measures? Isn’t that one of the reasons why we gave tax cuts to the rich?
Ask members of DUMBO’s White/Liberal/Hipster/Wall Street/Creative/Techie class these questions, and they’ll like tell you “Yeah, but …”
song currently stuck in my head: “dindi” – jon lucien