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Miseducation

New York City is home to the nation’s most segregated school system, a fact that surprises those who think of the Big Apple as a progressive beacon. Deep inequities exist at every level of the NYC school system. We think more people should know about them and push to fix them. That's why, each semester, we bring together a team of high school interns from across the school system to tell important stories from the perspective of the real experts: students. Miseducation is a program of The Bell. For more, visit bellvoices.org/podcast and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @miseducationpod.

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Episode 3: Adriana

“I didn’t like the fact that I was being doubted because, over time, I really started to doubt myself.” — Adriana, The James Baldwin School studentMaria De Los Santos is a senior at Comprehensive Model School Project 327 in the South Bronx. By Maria De Los SantosTo Adriana, school was a happy place — at the elementary level.During her middle-school years, though, she eventually stopped going to school, started hanging out with the “wrong crowd” and was “sent away.” She was in the foster care system and did not have a calm, supportive household to support her.I met Adriana at The James Baldwin School, where she introduced herself as “bacon on a stove.” I wanted to know more about the challenges she faced and how transferring to Baldwin impacted her.I learned that Adriana became involved in the restorative-justice practices that Baldwin offers, and the open-minded culture at the school helped her become a role model to others. She turned her life around from almost dropping out of high school to being a leader, the “go-to” person at James Baldwin. The school became like her home.To learn more about restorative justice, I attended a workshop during the summer with several students from James Baldwin and City-As-School High School. The conversations and community spirit really moved me. All schools should provide restorative justice, especially those with students who have experienced pain from institutional systems, such as the educational and political systems.I admire Adriana's strength and resilience. She didn't allow her struggles to stand in her way as she graduated from high school this past June and enrolled in a SUNY school to study criminal justice.To hear more of Adriana's story and the ways that restorative justice can help students, listen to the Miseducation podcast. (left to right) Zion, MJ, and Cevon participated in a restorative justice workshop at The James Baldwin School this summer led by Peer Connect, a firm that focuses on spreading restorative practices. This podcast season about transfer high schools is produced in partnership with The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.If you want to join the conversation, send us a message and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Radio Public | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Overcast | Podbean The music for this season includes original tracks from Elijah Goodman, a.k.a. Ejcali, born in Santa Clarita, California, and now living in Brooklyn. He is an upcoming music producer self-taught in piano, inspired by creating various genres of music. In addition to working with Building Beats, Elijah is a member of S.I.M.B.A., a youth empowerment program in Brooklyn.

27mins

20 Feb 2020

Rank #1

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Episode 5: Brady

Photo by Dulce Michelle Marquez “I mean clearly I was a screw up. I got the degree, but if I hadn’t fallen in love and had a kid I might still be playing music and pounding nails.” — Brady Smith, principal co-director, The James Baldwin School       Miriam is a 2019 graduate of Bard High School Early College Queens. By Miriam Entin-BellThe day I first visited The James Baldwin School, I met Nia, a confident young woman whose path to a high school diploma was not what we might call traditional. Like so many other Baldwin alums, Nia found a home at this small transfer high school, which is built on the principles of project-based learning, restorative justice, and student-teacher trust. In fact, her attachment is so strong that she still drops by all the time, even though she graduated a few years ago. Where does Nia’s fierce devotion to the school come from? When I peeled back the layers, all signs pointed to the principal’s office.Brady Smith, Baldwin’s principal co-director, grew up in Seattle and spent his early adulthood “playing music and pounding nails” — not exactly the one you’d have imagined in the leadership role of a second-chance high school for New York City youth. However, it turns out that Brady's own story helps him empathize with the students he now serves.Miseducation podcast’s season three helps us understand how the principles of Baldwin impact students like Nia even after graduation day. In this final episode, we reflect on the unjust New York City school system and return to important questions we have been asking throughout this season. Do transfer schools like James Baldwin help students succeed? And how do they define success?  Transfer High School Data from NYC Department of Education This podcast season about transfer high schools is produced in partnership with The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.If you want to join the conversation, send us a message and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Radio Public | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Overcast | Podbean The music for this season includes original tracks from Elijah Goodman, a.k.a. Ejcali, born in Santa Clarita, California, and now living in Brooklyn. He is an upcoming music producer self-taught in piano, inspired by creating various genres of music. In addition to working with Building Beats, Elijah is a member of S.I.M.B.A., a youth empowerment program in Brooklyn. Contact Elijah

27mins

28 May 2020

Rank #2

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Episode 1: The Price of Specialized High Schools

Intern Yasmine Chokrane takes you inside the world of specialized high schools by weaving together the stories of Charlotte and Katherine, two students who took very different paths to the "Ivies" of the New York City high school system.

23mins

31 May 2018

Rank #3

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Episode 3: White Kids

Read the transcript. “My mom said that this is a white world, so I need to learn how to work with white people.” — Ashé, 18 Nelson (left) and Whitney (right) are rising seniors at Democracy Prep Charter High School in West Harlem. They, along with their graduating classmate Ashé, helped kickstart the student-led group Teens Take Charge. In its unanimous Brown v. Board opinion in 1954, the Supreme Court clearly outlined the negative psychological impact of segregated schooling on minority children – but it did not mention the harm done to white children. Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, perhaps the most influential psychologist involved in the case, thought this was a great mistake. Dr. Clark and his wife Mamie, a fellow psychologist, are best remembered for their infamous "doll tests," which demonstrated that young black children in segregated schools develop feelings of self-hatred. In the decades after Brown, Dr. Clark said he regretted not studying more closely the psychological impact of segregation on white children. In a 1982 interview, which you can watch below, he claims segregation "dehumanizes" white children and leaves them "morally animalistic."We no longer see the same degree of overt racism displayed during the integration of Little Rock Central in 1957 or the Boston busing riots in the mid-1970s, but the question remains: How does school segregation affect white kids?This episode provides an in-depth look at how three students in a racially isolated Harlem school interact with white students today. From a testy encounter in a church youth group to a long-distance video game friendship, these stories remind us that diverse peer interactions are crucial for everyone, white kids included. Click to read this excerpt from the social science statement submitted by the NAACP to the Supreme Court in 1952. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and 30 other social scientists signed it. Read the entire statement here.Podcast RSS

28mins

26 Jun 2017

Rank #4

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Episode 4: Who Needs Integration?

Read the transcript. “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.--- If you like the show, please leave a review on iTunes and share it with your friends!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.Podcast RSS

29mins

1 Aug 2017

Rank #5

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Episode 2: The Other End of the Spectrum

“The first day of school I noticed I didn’t have a science class. That was alarming.” — Muhammad Deen, Senior, Victory Collegiate High SchoolSubscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Overcast | PodbeanThe primary purpose of high school is to prepare students for college and careers, but some schools do way better than others. Nationwide, white 25-29-year-olds are twice as likely as their black and Hispanic peers to have a bachelor's degree. Asians in the same age bracket are three times as likely. These gaps in college completion mirror the college readiness gaps in our high schools.In Episode 1, we dove into the debate about specialized high schools. Now, we want to know what happens to the students on the other end of the spectrum. How well are they being prepared? Twitter | Facebook | InstagramIn collaboration with:

26mins

14 Jun 2018

Rank #6

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Episode 5: The Movement

Read the transcript. “Everyone needs to be a part of this movement.” — Hebh Jamal, 17 Hebh Jamal grew up in the Bronx but attended an elite public high school in midtown Manhattan. That experience gave her a sense of just how big of a difference five miles can make when it comes to schooling – and it prompted her to start asking questions about race, class, and enrollment. Eventually, she teamed up with a youth-led group called IntegrateNYC, and together, they found some answers.Now, Hebh is an activist on a mission to integrate the nation's most racially segregated public school system. This present fight echoes of a similar one, six decades earlier.Will the result be different this time around? EARLY INTEGRATION BATTLES: NEW YORK TIMES HEADLINES (1956–1964) TENSIONS BOIL OVEROn January 29, 1964, New York City Board of Education president James Donovan outlined a comprehensive school integration plan, which you can listen to below. The Board hoped the release of the plan would avert a boycott organized by civil rights groups frustrated by years of false promises and inaction. It didn't. Five days later, nearly 460,000 black and Puerto Rican students boycotted the public schools to protest segregated and unequal education. It was and remains the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history.As for the city's integration plan? Among other initiatives, it included changes in school assignment policies, staff integration, culturally responsive training for teachers, and the creation of a citywide council on integration. But most of it never came to pass because school leaders bowed to pressure from white parents' associations who opposed "forced integration." They said "normal, natural integration" would be okay. Decades later, we're still waiting for it.The audio comes from the New York Public Radio Archives. For more coverage of the 1964 school integration battle, check out audio stories here and here, from WNYC's Yasmeen Khan. Podcast RSS

29mins

8 Sep 2017

Rank #7

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Analysis: The 'Diversity' Plan

Last week the city announced flawed school integration goals. A better approach? Move the median. The plan, released June 6, calls for incremental steps toward racial and socioeconomic integration over five years. You can read it in full here. TEXT VERSION:For months, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his schools’ chancellor Carmen Fariña have promised a comprehensive plan to address the segregation that has plagued the city school system for decades. Last week, the plan finally arrived in the form of a 12-page document that contains not a single reference to “segregation” or “integration."The diversity plan is the policy equivalent of a last-minute gift delivered sans wrapping paper or card. The question now among integration advocates: Can we exchange it?Critics have called the plan “small-bore,” “meek,” and "unlikely to make a dent.” But the plan’s modest ambition isn’t the only problem. The city’s metrics and terminology also represent a troubling lack of seriousness toward the issue.The plan puts forth just two quantifiable diversity goals: one racial and the other socioeconomic. The race-related goal, which has received the most attention, is as follows:In five years, the city aims to increase by 50,000 the number of students who attend “racially representative” schools, which it defines as schools with student populations greater than 50 percent but not more than 90 percent black and Hispanic.The mayor claims the target will “make a very big difference in terms of diversification” for “tens of thousands of kids.” Even some critics have conceded that it is a positive first step.But a close inspection of the goal reveals how it would likely have no significant effect on racial diversity and could be achieved even if the school system becomes more segregated. Let me explain.Overall, 67.8 percent of public school students are black or Hispanic. Strangely, the city rounds this figure up to 70 percent, explaining how it set the bookends of the "racially representative" range (plus or minus 20 percentage points from the rounded mean), but not why. In a system of more than 1.1 million students, 2.2 percentage points is significant. In any event, only about 30 percent of students attend schools inside the 50-90 percent black-and-Hispanic range. An additional 50,000 students would boost that to 35 percent, hardly a major shift.But to really make sense of the goal, it’s important to know that the current distribution of black and Hispanic students skews dramatically toward the upper extreme. This is most evident when looking at the percentage of black and Hispanic students in each of the city’s 1,856 public schools. The distribution looks like a hockey stick, with the great mass of schools having an extremely high percentage of black and Hispanic enrollments. In more precise terms, half of the public schools (928) have black and Hispanic enrollments of at least 90.1 percent — the median. A quarter (464) are at least 95.9 percent black and Hispanic.Because so many schools are clustered just north of the “racially representative” zone, the slightest demographic nudge — in some cases, the addition of a single white or Asian kid — could drop a cusp school into the zone, thus contributing its entire enrollment toward the 50,000-student goal. If the 105 schools currently between 90.1 percent and 92 percent black and Hispanic fell to 90 percent (moving an average of just one percentage point), the city’s goal would be reached.Let’s say it happens. What would this allow us to claim?Well, for the 50,000 students who move inside the zone, the demographic shift of their schools would likely be imperceptible. More importantly, it would tell us nothing about the racial diversity experienced by the 65 percent of students still outside of the zone. As a small percentage of schools inch closer to the mean, the poles could drift even farther apart.In other words, the city could reach its goal even if the system at large were to become more segregated.To illustrate this concept, imagine Lebron James’ goal next season is to score within five points of his points-per-game average more often — say, three more times than he did this season. He could achieve his goal while having an even more scattered overall scoring distribution. Measuring the point totals that fall within an arbitrary zone provides no information about point totals outside of the zone.Now, before proposing a better metric, I must first comment on the term “racially representative,” which is inaccurate and misleading. Most of the schools in the city’s “racially representative” zone have at least two races that are heavily underrepresented or overrepresented. P.S. 28 in Queens is 89.9 percent Hispanic but meets the definition because it has zero black students. P.S. 398 in Crown Heights meets it, too, even though it has just two white and four Asian students (13 percent of the school identifies as “other”).Why would the city choose such a flawed term? My guess is that they thought “racially representative” would evoke thoughts of diversity, as opposed to segregation, a word the mayor hesitates to use in reference to schools. But, no matter how they label it, what they are really assessing is the degree to which black and Hispanic students are racially isolated — which is exactly what school segregation researchers measure.So, how to fix the goal? Focus on moving the median.As I mentioned, the median percentage of black and Hispanic students in city schools is 90.1 percent. Anything done to move the median toward the mean (67.8 percent) would result in a less segregated system overall. Setting targets related to the distance between the mean and the median would also control for possible demographic shifts that static goals, such as the current one, do not take into account. As you can see, the distribution is skewed heavily toward the upper end of the range. Moving the median toward the mean would result in a more normal distribution (i.e. the system would become less segregated).  “Moving the median” could also be applied to socioeconomic and academic segregation, which are just as severe and harmful as racial segregation.While choosing appropriate metrics is important, so too is language. The city should be more transparent about its mission, which, beneath the veneer of “diversity,” appears to be (and should be for now) reducing the stark segregation of black and Hispanic students. To its credit, the diversity plan established a School Diversity Advisory Group that will, over the next year, "evaluate initial goals and policies" put forth in the report. We should be prepared to push that group to adopt more ambitious goals with sound metrics, and then hold the city accountable for meeting them. For, as anyone with public policy experience knows, the true work comes after a policy has been made.Podcast RSS

9mins

13 Jun 2017

Rank #8

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Episode 3: Who Gets to Play?

“When I moved to the U.S., I was like, okay, this is going to be a life-changing opportunity. Who knows, maybe I could become the next Usain Bolt.” — Shaffiou Assoumanou, Alumnus of International Community High SchoolBy Sabrina DuQuesnay and Terrence FreemanWatch any movie about high school. The plot line will include, if not revolve around, sports. It's a defining part of the high school experience. But, according to a new lawsuit, more than 17,000 black and Hispanic New York City students attend a high school with zero sports teams. Tens of thousands more attend schools with just a handful of teams. Meanwhile, Tottenville High School, one of the whitest public high schools in the city, has 44 sports teams.A group of students and advocates in the Fair Play Coalition is seeking to change these facts and ensure that all students, regardless of ethnicity, have the ability to play any sport the Public School Athletic League offers. Among Mr. Garcia-Rosen's inspirations: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, black sprinters who staged a "black fist" protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico; former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and racial justice activist Colin Kaepernick; and Martin Luther King, Jr. With the support of his students, he founded the NYC Let 'Em Play movement to raise awareness of sports inequity in New York City high schools. Pictured here in his dean's office at Bronx Academy of Letters At the center of it all: David Garcia-Rosen, a 20-year veteran of the Department of Education who has inspired his students to join him in the David-versus-Goliath fight. Their tactics over the years have been as bold and creative as Mr. Garcia-Rosen's use of school facilities (think: baseball in the auditorium) to provide his Bronx students the athletic opportunities that the city has denied them. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Overcast | PodbeanIn collaboration with:

30mins

2 Jul 2018

Rank #9

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Introduction: 64 Years Late

On the 64th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, we launch Season 2 with an introduction from Zoe and Sabrina into New York City's segregated high schools.

14mins

17 May 2018

Rank #10