Black Lives Matter at school

SLL photo: Stephen Millies

New York City, Feb. 6 — Rain didn’t stop hundreds of students, parents and teachers from rallying this afternoon at the Board of Education headquarters on Chambers Street. They demanded an end to racism in New York City public schools. The protest was part of the “Black Lives Matter at school” actions held coast-to-coast this week.

Sixty-six years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education outlawed school segregation, education in New York City is profoundly unequal. Rich parents send their children to private schools like the Horace Mann school, whose annual tuition is currently $53,200

More repulsive is how Black students are kept out of New York’s famed specialty public high schools. Almost two million Black people live in New York City. That’s about 25 percent of the city’s population. Yet, out of 895 students offered admittance to Stuyvesant High School last year, only seven were Black, less than 1 percent. 

Only 12 African American students were offered places at the Bronx High School of Science, half of the 25 Black students who were offered admission the year before.  Back In 1960, at least ten Black students graduated from this famous school, including Kwame Ture, then known as Stokely Carmichael.

‘Counselors not cops!’

“Black Lives Matter!” was shouted by the multinational audience on the steps of the old Tweed Courthouse behind City Hall. People brought colorful banners and signs. 

Among the demands raised was hiring more Black teachers and mandating Black history and ethnic studies. “Fund counselors not cops” was another.

Black and Latinx students spoke of the racism, sexism and neglect they’ve suffered. Last year almost 28 percent of Black high school students didn’t graduate. 

At the same time, Black college students have even more student debt than white students. 

What a difference from socialist Cuba, where education is free, including medical school. There are no metal detectors in Cuban schools. Education is a human right that NYC students are fighting for.