Home About Us Media Kit Subscriptions Links Forum

Can New York City Live Up to the Test of Valuing Diversity?

Richard R. Greene, Chancellor NYC Schools 1988-1989.jpg

In 1988 Chancellor Richard Greene asked the following rhetorical question: Can New York City, a World City, live up to the test of valuing diversity? At this time in history Greene was being installed as the new chancellor. On March 3, 1988, he was challenging the stakeholders to build a quality of life that placed trust and caring at the apex of our human relationships. He envisioned all people as worthy and entitled to share in the American experience. What he felt was essential was for our city to "reject illiteracy as a norm in some of our communities and move toward a quality of life which is the very foundation of an educated society."
Unfortunately, we have not reached this goal. The reports, surveys and statistics show how much further we must go if equity and access to a basic education is possible for all.
Richard Greene pointed to the fact that New York City had a long legacy -- not just as a city, but as a "world city" -- educating its immigrant population. He pointed out how the world of these immigrants changed. Similarly, he felt there should be an investment in all children because their diverse origins were essential to the future of our nation.
Greene cautioned against pointing the finger of accusation and any one culprit for the problems when he said, "We, the collective we, can say that we rose to the test by making our society better for all students. Our greatness as a school system and as a city will ultimately be judged by how we treat the least of those among us. Education is everybody's business. We must believe that we can reform, reinforce and save our schools and ultimately celebrate as a renaissance in learning and achievement."
Today, the challenge remains. And the facts elicited from 1988 seem to almost mirror what is still happening today. "Can we continue to ignore the facts that Latino students are more that 34 percent less likely than the general school population to graduate from high school in New York; the actual number of high school diplomas have declined even though the high school population has remained the same; the dropout rate for black youngsters is at an all time high; and some of our buildings are in a condition not acceptable for any children?" questioned Greene.
Certainly as indicated by the DOE, "choice-based system may be leading to an over-concentration of students with disabilities, English language learners and/or students that are performing below proficiency in certain schools." And as stated by Jackie Bennett In Power Speaks Truth:
"What with complex, market-driven enrollment policies on the one hand (which favor the families best equipped to negotiate the system), and high-stakes accountability systems on the other (which reward schools that teach fewer at-risk kids), students have been disenfranchised by Bloomberg's policies."
Now it is our turn, we, the collective we, will have to fix it. And if Richard Greenie were here today he would add the following: "In the final analysis, we must remember that we will be judged by only one standard -- the extent to which we have improved achievement scores for all students."
To this end, I feel we must collaborate, negotiate, and renegotiate. It's all hands on deck. The time is now!

Leave a comment

Recent Entries

Nelson 'Madiba' Mandela Remembered
Nelson Mandela: the embodiment of a freedom's dream realized. Madiba: The iconic leader in the struggle against apartheid. Today, South…
Reflections on Senegalese Cuisine: A Memoir
When I visited Dakar in 1987, I was reluctant to eat the African cuisine. My apprehension stemmed from the precautions…
Observing Islamic Education in Senegal 1987
The teacher stands beneath a leafy tree and towers over his young charges outside the Grand Mosque in Dakar. He…
Education Update, Inc. All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2013.