Asking Parents of Color What They Need & Continuing to Ignore Them!

I want to start off with this quote, “To truly transform education, we must first deepen our understanding of the great battle that we are in. This begins with actually asking people of color what they want and need and then listening to what they say” (Horsford, 2021). My question now is, how do we do this? How do we make this happen? This article made me think about the recent Diversity Plan to desegregate schools in District 15. This heated debate, that was based on the premise that “all” (code for Black and Latino) families should have access to the “best/top performing” schools in the district, raises so many other questions! Why does increasing access to quality education need to come at the cost of leaving your own neighborhood? And, armed with the knowledge we have, that wealthy parents essentially run and subsidize their own local public schools, why don’t we start our analysis here?

As a former District 2 parent, I am intimately aware of this problem. Within this system, wealthy parents can weigh their options between private and public because they know that their local public school is not “like the rest” in the city. This gives these PTA parents a lot of power and control over what happens in these schools. Including what antiracist books are being purchased and discussions are being developed. I bring this up because this was part of the reasoning behind the District 15 Diversity Plan. A plan based on wealthy Park Slope parents spreading their “cash and cultural capital” throughout neighborhoods like Sunset Park and Red Hook. There is so much implied and problematic here, the idea that primarily Black and Latino schools must wait until wealthy white families arrive to be “invested in.” Then, once these school begin to change and improve, improve for whom? I’ll end with Horsford’s reminder that, “What is good for the oppressor is typically not good for the oppressed” (2021).