Main Message of Orfield’s Dismantling Segregation Article

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Prompt (Introduction)

One of the motivations that allowed me to research about schools in New York City was from the readings and class lectures held in Introduction to Latino Studies. In Gary Orfield’s Dismantling Segregation, the author accentuates the Latin Americans dominating New York public schools and students are not receiving the same quality of education.

Segregation vs. education

Orfield explains that students academic performance differs by location and the quality of education strongly correlates with racially segregated schools. According to Valerie Strauss, a journalist from The Washington Post, reported that Latin students have higher possibilities to enroll to poor performing and minority concentrated schools. Strauss further remarks that Latino students who live poor neighborhoods in New York City, suffers due to poor access to academic resources. Such poorest neighborhoods include Harlem, the south Bronx, and central Brooklyn and none of competitive schools are located in these areas. The stake of education is that segregated schools have been producing negative outcomes; Smith from Education News reported that Latin students from ninety public schools failed to pass math or reading exams. The U.S. News reports that average scores of students’ performance and access to academic resources are clearly distinct between students from integrated and segregated schools (Study: Schools Exacerbate Achievement Gap).

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Why is educational inequality a serious problem?

Professor Negron once stated that private schools have been pouring best educational resources, public schools have been providing inadequate resources for students. If most of the educational benefits are retained through private schools than in public schools, this will seriously affect the nation’s economy, which might be a burden to middle class families. The United States (U.S) has been prioritizing education and it has been the cardinal importance for students in order to succeed and to contribute to the U.S. economy. Not only do students learn ethics and knowledge through schools, but education also guarantees students to prepare, to integrate, and to socialize in the adult world.

However, it is no surprise that all students do not receive equal education. Depending on individual’s residence and wealth, the quality of education student receive may vary. While the nation stressed the importance of education to the students in terms of promising future, such inequalities in education indicates that social mobility will be especially difficult to those who suffer from poverty.

The focus (Theme)

Among educational issues, the topic will center towards public education in New York City. Although New York City has been known for it’s competitive educational systems and its diversity, New York Magazine describes that New York has one of the most racially segregated schools in the nation (Bankoff). In racially segregated schools, students do not receive best quality of education; while there are schools that constitutes the high rate of students attendance and graduation rate, there are resident fragmented schools that have poor attendance rate as well as students performance. About 79.9 percent of Latino students were exposed to low-income families 2011 (Kuscera, Orfield79) The focus should be what Latinos students face in New York public schools where it is dominated by minority group. It is crucial to understand the history to see why segregated areas have poor educational development and how the public and the government respond to segregated schools. It is also important to let people to be aware of why integrated school system is necessary in New York public schools and provide possible solution to racially fragmented issues.

Latinos populated Schools in New York City

Most of the Hispanic isolated schools are located in Washington Heights and Central American Corona. One of the schools is Gregorio Luperon High school where Spanish-speaking immigrants dominate the school and there are no African Americans, Caucasian, and Asians (A portrait of segregation).

Academic Resources in isolated neighborhoods

Socio-economically isolated schools in New York, limit Latino students to produce better academic outcomes; schools hire less qualified teachers and students are likely to be engulfed by less successful peer groups, less facilities, and learning material (Kuscera and Orfield, 32). In New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction, and a Damaged Future, the author John Kucsera and Gary Orfield states that highly experienced teachers significantly contributes to students lives including reducing pregnancy, increase graduation and college enrollment rates. However, qualified teachers are unevenly distributed to New York public schools and even if they are recruited in schools of concentrated poverty, teachers are inclined to leave or transfer schools that have high concentration of minorities.

Latino students’ academic performances in New York public schools

Poor academic resources and lack of support distracted Latino students to produce effective outcomes in terms of graduation rates, proficiency exams, and attendance rates in New York metropolitan areas.

Graduation rate

New York has one of the worst reputations for graduation rates within 4 years of high school (Russo, Burke). The dropouts are likely to end up in jail due to involvement in drugs and gangs. Even though there have been academic improvements in terms of graduation rates, Latino students still maintains the lowest rate among other ethnic groups. Caucasian and Asian students graduated with the rate of 87.3 percent and 82.3 percent, at the same time, 61.6 percent of Latino students graduated within four years of high school (Skelding).

English and Math exams (Achievement gap)

Latino and African Americans students performed poorly compared to Caucasian and Asian students. The rate of achievement gap slightly increased in Math proficiency exams 35.2 percent compare to last year 34.2 percent in 2014. The gap in English was 30.4 percent and 28.4 percent in 2014. Caucasians and Asians scored above 50 percent in English exams. Asians had 66 percent and Caucasians had 55 percent in Math proficiency exams. Whereas, Latino scored 23 percent and African Americans scored 20 percent.

Racial segregation and Poverty: history and background

The author Gary Orfield contends that intense segregation in education exists in North rather than in South and informs the readers that students’ performance is inextricably linked to school demographics (65). Orfield reveals, “African American and Latino students who live in towns, rural areas, and in the suburbs of small metropolitan areas are the most likely to be experiencing integrated education. By far the most serious segregation is in the large central cities, followed by the smaller central city communities…” (61). In other words, suburban schools have a large diversity than schools in metropolitan areas.

Latin Americans demographic context in New York City : history of Latino immigration and isolated neighborhoods

Racial segregation began during twentieth century. After World War II ended, a large number of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York City. In 1960, one out of twelve were Puerto Ricans and have been actively participating civil rights movements. Latin Americans became densely populated after the Immigration of 1965. About 50 percent of Latino Americans reside in New York City. Even though city is renown for its diversity, the schools and the residential towns are often segregated. Most of the education inequalities stem from job and housing segregation in the past (Orfield, 57), which mostly applied to the minorities in the U.S metropolitan areas.

History of educational discrimination in the city

After Brown v. The board of education, Kenneth Clark, a psychologist, conducted a study and claimed that the city had segregated school systems and that African Americans did not receive proper education. The fact appealed William Jensen, who was the superintendent of New York City schools and formed Commission on Integration to strengthen diversity within public schools (Kuscera, Orfield 19). In 1960, Commission on Integration made various efforts for minority students-African Americans and Latino Americans from highly segregated areas such as Bedford- Stuyvesant and East Harlem enroll to Caucasian dominated schools in Yorkville, yet Caucasian parents strongly resented to this idea. Despite the fact that 28 Caucasian dominated schools had enough space for 3000 more students, the board of education sent 28 minority students from segregated schools. In 1964, about 450,000 of African American and Puerto Rican students refused to attend to their respective schools. The parents and civil right activists marched into the streets of New York City in defiance of segregation and educational inequality (Kuscera, Orfield 20).

Why desegregation is crucial

It is countlessly proven that integration among ethnic groups brings positive impact in students life. Not only are desegregated schools broadens students’ horizons, it also let minority students to achieve academic goals as well as to set career goals (Kuscera, Orfield 30).

d. Aftermath of segregation:

After 20 years of African Americans and Latin Americans protest against segregation in New York City schools did not went effectively because of strong opposition from Caucasian parents. However, this unresolved problems did not stop them to give up their aspirations.

Voluntary Education programs

To alleviate this matter, education option programs emerged to promote student integration in the 1970s: magnet schools and dual language programs. Dual language programs were found after 1970, in which to embrace bilinguals to have positive cross cultural attitudes. Magnet schools and dual language programs were established in purpose to prevent isolation among minorities (Kuscera, Orfield 22). Charter schools specifically designed for students in concentrated poverty and isolated neighborhoods. About 73 percent of charter schools are apartheid, which has 1 percent of Caucasian students. Such schools are only preventing students from integration in segregated neighborhoods.

f. The Board of education role in Integration

New York City has 32 Community School Districts (CSD) and it is still difficult to see schools with diverse student body within each district. Attempt for integration declined as private schools have emerged. 29 out of 32 CSDs, students can select a school that is out of his or her district, but those who try to enroll to competitive schools are usually students from affluent homes, which only strengthen the segregation in the city.

Latino exposure to other ethnic groups

In 2010, one data publicized that Latino Students have greater chance to be exposed in their ethnic community. 49 percent was Latinos, 22 percent was African Americans, which placed second highest among exposed ethnic groups. Followed by 20 percent were Caucasian and the last lowest 9 percent was Asians. Natasha Bertrand from Business Insider revealed that segregation increased when Latino exposure to Caucasian enrollment was 22 percent in 1970 and 20 percent in 2010. Despite the mass protest and eager for change for desegregation, integration has not much changed in New York City.

VI. Recommendations (suggestions)

Federated Regionalism

This model strives to balance out racially fragmented districts. The model is applied in Omaha, Nebraska, in which makes an effort to achieve socioeconomic diversity within 11 segregated districts within the state. It expands opportunities for students to access desegregated public schools (Kuscera, Orfield 128).

Supporting interdisciplinary plans

Joining racial integration movements, minority voice and power, and the learning community help contributes reducing segregation in housing and education. Yet, only 1 percent of the population in city school are participating in this program (Kuscera,Orfield 128).

Department of Education must confront and encounter segregation issues

New York City Department of Education(DOE) lost its interest and priority in desegregation. Some of the magnet schools and charter school lost its purpose to embrace diversity of students; the schools have been marketing towards Caucasians and others from affluent home due to lack of financial support and academic resources. It is important to DOE to financially fund and support some of the magnet and charter schools to help reach its diversity goal (Kuscera, Orfield 131).


Segregation does not only apply in New York, it is a statewide phenomenon where high concentration of minority and poverty commonly occurs in the U.S. metropolitan cities in Washington, California and Illinois. However, it is strangely ironic that the city is ranked in the first place for its most segregated schools in the United States, when diversity has been the hallmark of New York City. The government and DOE rather seem to be indifferent than to find different approaches to embrace desegregation in isolated neighborhoods. Latino students drop out rates and academic performance in high school denotes the delusion of American dream. The underlying problem is that if the public and government continue to be indifferent towards racially fragmented schools and residential towns, the area and the economy will never be in progress. Suffering from poverty and poor academic environment will only discourage the students in all aspects and easily tempt them to commit crime. To improve the qualities of New York City, education needs to justify segregated schools.

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