A prevailing belief in the United States is that education is the great opportunity equalizer — a silver bullet that can lift kids out of poverty and transform them into productive citizens. Yet the reality of our “make or break” education system is that race and social class largely determine the quality of one’s educational life, from pre-K to graduate school.
“Global cities” like New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles boast diverse populations and cultural depth, but their public school systems remain highly segregated. Much of this has to do with housing and rapid rates of gentrification. But it also has to do with the slow repeal of public policy focused on school integration in favor of privatization, accountability schemes and school choice. A recent University of California, Los Angeles study, for example, argues that in New York City, private and charter schools are exacerbating the problem of “apartheid” schooling.