Although New York City Schools are considered one of the country’s most diverse school system, it is also one of the most racially and economically segregated school systems in the U.S.
A growing number of Black parents are turning away from integration and turning to Afrocentric-focused schools for their children.
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“Currently, those schools enroll about 2,300 students and include private and charter schools, as well as public high schools,” the Root reported.
In a story published by the New York Times, reporter Eliza Shapiro interviewed teachers, administrators, and parents of students enrolled in the NYC schools with Afrocentric curriculums. She learned that any principal is allowed to use a Black-centric curriculum “with Black teachers, and a focus on Black culture in literature, history and art classes” as long as it’s approved by the city and meets state educational standards.
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said he supports Afrocentric schools, which reinforce positive notions of Blackness and Black pride and tend to have higher numbers of teachers of color:
“Often when you talk about integration, it’s about taking Black kids out of their schools and sending them into white schools,” he said. “Rarely is it about, ‘How do you have other kids come into traditionally Black schools and find value?’
“If there’s a school that says that’s what we want to focus on,” he said, referring to Afrocentric schools, “I think we should be very supportive of that.”
The trend toward Afrocentric schools is not only in NYC but across the country as Black parents look for safe and nurturing environments for their children.
“But even in integrated, high-performing schools, concerns have arisen among Black parents across the country about the impact majority-white environments and curriculums could have on their children. These concerns—covering everything from microaggressions and hate speech to Black children being over-punished and over-policed—have helped spur an increase in the number of Black parents homeschooling their children,” the Root reported.
Still, there are critics of Afrocentric schools. Some of them are low-funded and lack resources. Abandoning integrated school would be a bad move, according to Andre Perry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“Segregation leads to inequality,” he said. “If you’re going to ignore this issue, it will come back to haunt you.”