Students struggle with ongoing segregation


Kathy Soba remembers her classmates’ disbelieving reactions when they heard she had never met anyone who was not black or Hispanic before coming to the High School of American Studies at Lehman College. 

“They kind of laughed. They were like, Kathy, you’ve never met a white person before, a Jewish person? And I was like, honestly, no,” she said, sitting outside American Studies on a recent August afternoon.

A major report released earlier this year shows her experience is not out of the ordinary. Schools in New York State — and especially the city — are the most segregated in the nation, according to the Civil Rights Project at UCLA’s “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future.”

The March report found that in 2010, 85 percent of black students attended schools with 10 percent or fewer white students; for Hispanic students, that figure stood at 75 percent. 

The report considers schools where 50 to 100 percent of the student body are students of color to be segregated; 90 to 100 percent would be considered intensely segregated, and 99 to 100 percent would be considered an “apartheid” school. Within Community Board 8’s boundaries, five of 22 schools are considered segregated by the report’s standards, while 15 are considered intensely segregated; one, Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy, would be considered an apartheid school. American Studies, in fact, is the only school that is not considered segregated by report standards, with black, Asian, Hispanic and other students making up 46.5 percent of the student body. 

A Bronx native who lives in Gun Hill, 17-year-old Kathy identifies as Hispanic. Her mother is an immigrant from Ecuador who emigrated at the age of 16; her father, born in the Bronx, is of Puerto Rican descent. 

Kathy’s middle school, the William W. Niles School (M.S. 118) on 179th Street, was predominantly Hispanic. She says making the transition to American Studies, a specialized high school where white and Asian students make up 76 percent of the student body, was a challenge. 

Page 1 / 8


2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

This seems more life self-segregation to me. To not meet a person who is not black or hispanic means that your family kept you away from many normal experiences.

My daughter is white and the only time she has been kept from interacting with people of other races is when black parents refused to let their kids play her on our local playground, which has happened more than once. Come to think of it, that is a kind of interaction!

The comment that is most honest comes from the student who observed how his peers retreat into their ethnic or racial group whenever possible.

What is most important that this is a (non) problem that de Blasio can pretend to fix.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

@lilliroma your remarks are uninformed (did you read the article or look at the chart?) and racist.

Friday, November 7, 2014