The ongoing debates about race in the United States seems to have shifted away from monuments and police officers’ use of force to settle firmly on immigration. Now, there race is at the forefront of class placement in a prestigious private school. Students there are being segregated by race, and have been for years.
The Little Red School House in Greenwich Village of New York is expensive: $45,485-per-year.
The school attracts wealthy families, and is schooling the children of “David Schwimmer, Christy Turlington Burns and Sofia Coppola,” The NY Post notes.
The school’s director, Philip Kassen, has put in place a policy that will “place minority middle-school students in the same homerooms come fall.”
Unlike some schools, where homeroom is a brief gathering at the start of the day, these groups stay together for almost a third of the day.
Kassen’s plan for the separation has angered parents.
“My daughter who is 11 was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy. They are talking about separating by color,’” a student’s father told The Post.
“And I was thinking how antiquated is this? This is backwards. It’s almost like segregation now.”
After the Post began investigating the plan, the school announced that the program had already been in effect for some of the school’s grade levels, and that it wasn’t a new plan, rather an expansion. But some say the school hasn’t been clear about their intentions.
“They weren’t very transparent about it,” one graduate’s parent said. “It was my daughter who immediately noticed that all the kids of color were in one class. If you’re going to have that policy, you need to be upfront,” he said.
“We realized she was placed with all the minority students, but none of her friends. It was peculiar that they didn’t spread everyone out.”
While some of the parents denied the possibility of the policy, others began to see it take shape. As it became more transparent, the parents protested.
“They had a couple meetings with parents and there was a lot of buzz and outrage and yelling,” another inside source told the Post.
“Everyone was saying, ‘We don’t think it’s necessary. These kids have been friends since kindergarten and nursery school. They don’t see color so why are you doing this?’”
The pressure got to Kassen. In mid-June he announced that he would review the school’s policy. After the review, he announced to parents that he intended to keep “race as a critical, but not primary, determinant,” in placement.
He went so far as to quote the school’s own handbook, that says: “Research points to the academic, social, and emotional benefits to being in a classroom with others who share racial, ethnic, linguistic, and/or cultural backgrounds.”
“An NYC-based educational consultant with a focus on minority students” told the Post that the policy is “the lesser of two evils.” “The intention is to make students of color feel that they are a critical mass and have a voice,” she said. “And if that results in clumping kids and creating some all-white classrooms, it’s a trade-off worth making,” she said.