After facing backlash from parents, a New York City private school has decided to end its policy that separated students into their homeroom classes based on their race.
According to NBC New York, parents recently discovered that for the past year, students of color at the Little Red School House were deliberately put in homerooms together. The school’s director, Phil Kassen, sent a letter to the school community about the policy at the end of June.
“My daughter who is 11 was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy. They are talking about separating by color,’” one parent told the New York Post. “And I was thinking how antiquated is this? This is backwards. It’s almost like segregation now.”
As a private institution, parents pay money for their children to attend the school, and the tuition is approximately $45,485 per year, according to NBC New York. Therefore, the parents’ position on the issue is very valuable.
Kassen’s letter explained that the policy “came about after much conversation with the faculty and was prompted by a conversation with a number of recent graduates, reflecting on their experience at [Little Red School House] and suggesting that we create greater opportunities for connection and support.”
He added that the policy was meant to “better support our students of color.” The school intended to keep the policy in place this upcoming fall but decided not to, following the influx of negative responses.
“I think that it is essential to note that our groupings were not created to take away rights or opportunities from anyone, but rather to create the most supportive environment possible for all students, which is the very heart of our mission,” Kassen said in the letter.
He continued: “During the coming months we will continue to look for ways to ensure that the full [Little Red School House] experience is available to all of our students and to create dialogue that reinforces our diverse community in which all voices are heard.”
This is a textbook case of a well-intended effort that backfired because the execution was flawed.
While offering more support to students of color is a great initiative and should be a priority in all educational institutions, amplifying the differences between students of color and their white counterparts by segregating them is not the ideal way to go about it.
Offering extra academic counseling services targeted to students of color, diversifying the school’s curriculum, hosting cultural events on campus that celebrate diversity, acknowledging prominent cultural holidays, and hiring a significant amount of staff and faculty of color are just some of many ways to create a more supportive and inclusive environment for students of color that don’t involve invoking Jim Crow.
Hopefully, the school's next bright idea for serving students of color will be more 2018 and less 1950.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Pixabay, skeeze