Episode 4: Who Needs Integration?

 
Yacine Fall.jpg
I was introduced to an elite education system that had no space for me.
— Yacine, 18 | Harlem
I only know black people. There’s nothing wrong with black people, but can I learn something else about other people?
— Tonie, 18 | East New York

Some scholars, including Malcolm Gladwell, think the Supreme Court overstepped in 1954 when it labeled segregated schools as "inherently inferior." There are plenty of examples of 100% non-white schools that have produced tremendous results. In college I recall reading David Brooks' 2009 New York Times column "The Harlem Miracle," which praised the Harlem Children's Zone schools specifically, and "no excuses" charter schools generally, for finally cracking the code on educating low-income children.

Three years later I found myself teaching in a "no excuses" Harlem charter school that dwarfed the HCZ results and even outpaced scores in Scarsdale and other wealthy enclaves. It was clear that poor black and brown kids didn't need to be in the same classrooms as rich white kids to be successful. So, why raise a fuss about integration?

This episode dives headfirst into that debate. It features two black scholars with a core disagreement about integration and two black New York City teens who attended very different high schools.

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Sources:

• Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History: Season 2, Episode 3, "Miss Buchanan's Period of Adjustment." 

• "Why New York? Our Segregated Schools Epidemic, Part Two: Tales from the Front Lines," Panel. Brooklyn Historical Society. September 2015. (View to the right)

• New York City Department of Education 2015-2016 School Quality Snapshots: Benjamin Banneker Academy | Beacon High School

• Click to read more about Nikole Hannah-Jones and Daryl Rock, two scholars featured in the episode.