By Robert A. Vella
Remember the Titanic, that marvel of ocean liner technology which infamously sank in 1912 after striking an iceberg? Over 1500 people died that night in the icy-cold waters of the North Atlantic. Of those deaths, poor immigrants from Europe were hit the hardest for they occupied the lowest decks of the ship and were largely separated from the rest of the passengers. Titanic was essentially a segregated floating community built near the end of the Gilded Age. Its wealthy aristocracy (first class) living high atop the luxurious vessel, its middle class (second class) denizens residing somewhat lower, and its desperate steerage class (third class) huddling at the bottom.
Now more than a century later, New York City – the planned destination of the Titanic – is re-segregating along similar lines.
Charter schools (i.e. the privatization of public education) are rapidly expanding in the “Big Apple” and across the nation. Pushed by powerful commercial interests with allies in both political parties, this fundamental transformation of education seems unstoppable. However, its actual performance in teaching children has been questionable so far, and its role in increasing social segregation is beginning to be well documented.
From The Washington Post – The link between charter school expansion and increasing segregation
Studies in a number of different states and school districts in the United States show that charter schools often lead to increased school segregation, a finding that is consistent with research in a number of other countries, including Australia. In many cases — not all — school choice programs exacerbate current school segregation and, in more heterogeneous settings, lead to the stratification of students who were previously in integrated environments.
From the Huffington Post – The Nation’s Most Segregated Schools Aren’t Where You’d Think They’d Be
NEW YORK — The nation’s most segregated schools aren’t in the deep south — they’re in New York, according to a report released Tuesday by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project.
See also UCLA Civil Rights Project – Choice Without Equity:
Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards
In addition to education, New York City is also re-segregating in its housing practices.
From ThinkProgress – Luxury Apartment Building Will Have Separate Door For Poor Residents
A luxury condo building on New York City’s Upper West Side has gotten clearance from the city to have a separate entrance, or a “poor door,” for low-income tenants, according to the New York Post.
Extell, which is building the 33-story complex, will build a specific door for the 55 affordable housing units it’s including in order to be allowed to build a bigger building. The low-income units, which are available to people making 60 percent of median income or less, will also be in a segment that only contains affordable apartments and that faces the street while the luxury apartments will face the river.
In New York City, this arrangement is relatively common. Luxury builders get credits to use up more square footage than they normally could by promising to build affordable units as well. Those developers can then sell the credits to cover the costs of building the low-income housing. Because Extell considers the affordable segment to be legally separate from the rest of the building, it says it is required to have different entrances.
Welcome to the New Gilded Age, New York. If you can segregate there, you can segregate anywhere!