Letter to Mayor de Blasio: Commit to Ending, Rather Than Perpetuating, Segregation and Inequality

Photo by: DVT/STAR MAX/IPx 10/23/15 Bill De Blasio hosts a press conference in New York City.
Photo by: DVT/STAR MAX/IPx 10/23/15 Bill De Blasio hosts a press conference in New York City.

Dear Mayor De Blasio,

I'd like to begin by quoting your words about school integration. My hope is when you see them you will be shocked and remorseful at having uttered them.

In response to why the city is not considering new zones to promote school integration, you said to a reporter: "You have to also respect families who have made a decision to live in a certain area oftentimes because of a specific school." These families, you said, have "made massive life decisions and investments because of which school their kid would go to." You also said, "This is the history of America." I assume you made that remark to acknowledge that segregation is a serious, long-term problem, but, oddly, your comment came in response to why you weren't considering serious proposals, like re-zoning or de-zoning, to desegregate our schools.

You are right. This is the history of America--deeply racist in profound, fundamental ways, including deeply segregated and unequal schools and state-sanctioned, anti-Black violence.

So, is that why you propose we continue to respect--that is, privilege--those families who can buy (several) million dollar co-ops and "invest" their money in a particular way? To continue the "American way?" As you well know, if people want to buy education with their money, they can send their children to private schools. But public education should not mean that, if you are wealthy, you have greater access to our public schools.

You speak about respect for those who bought property near a school so they could go there. I don't understand how it is considered disrespectful to tell families who bought a co-op near a school that fairness in admissions does not have to do with one's ability to buy expensive real estate. On the other hand, is it not disrespectful, in fact, to tell low-income families that they can't go to a certain school because they couldn't buy a several million-dollar co-op?

Your job as Mayor of our City is not to rubber-stamp or, more aptly, perpetuate inequality, but, rather, to participate in ending it.

Parents and community members across the city have worked long and hard to propose new district-wide admissions policies rooted in what is fair and transparent and insures equitable access for ALL our families. Meet with us; speak with us; listen to what we have learned and why we believe that systemic solutions are essential and that public education is not about acquiescing to the wealthy, but, rather, is about protecting the public in education.