STUDENTS ON STRIKE

New York City high school students recently staged a walk out to “strike for integration” and say they’ll continue to do so until they get it. “Teens Take Charge” alumnus and Program Director, Dulce Marquez and the program’s adviser, Taylor McGraw joins us.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Aired on December 4, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> ECONOMIC AND RACIAL SEGREGATION.

ACCORDING TO THE NEW SCHOOL, 40% OF NEW YORK CITY KINDERGARTNERS ENROLLED IN SCHOOLS OUTSIDE THEIR SCHOOL ZONE WITH THE HOPE OF GETTING AN EQUAL CHANCE AT SUCCESS, ALL PART OF THE SCHOOL SUCCESS PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS PARENTS AND CHILDREN TO CHOOSE WHICH SCHOOLS TO ATTEND.

SINCE 2004, THOUSANDS HAVE SWITCHED FROM LOW TO HIGHER PERFORMING SCHOOLS.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES THEY LEAVE BEHIND?

AS PART OF OUR 'CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE' ON POVERTY IN AMERICA, WE'RE LOOKING AT A BOOK CALLED 'TEENS TAKE CHARGE' DEDICATED TO ELEVATING THE STUDENTS' CHOICES.

JACK SAT DOWN WITH TAYLOR McGRAW AND MARQUEZ AND BEGAN ASKING HOW THE PROGRAM GOT ITS START.

I WAS ORIGINALLY A SCHOOLTEACHER IN NEW YORK CITY AND RECOGNIZED PRETTY EARLY ON THERE WAS A PROBLEM IN THAT THE STUDENTS I WAS TEACHING DIDN'T HAVE MUCH OF A VOICE IN THEIR EDUCATION AND POLICIES AFFECTING THEM.

AFTER I FINISHED TEACHING I DECIDED I WANTED TO CHANGE THAT.

I LINKED UP WITH MY COFOUNDER, ADRIAN AND DECIDED WE WANTED TO DO A PODCAST AND I STARTED GOING TO HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY, INTERVIEWING THEM ABOUT THEIR EDUCATION.

AS I WAS DOING THIS WORK, THEY SAID, HEY, TAYLOR, THIS IS COOL.

WE WANT TO DO MORE THAN A PODCAST, WE WANT TO TELL PEOPLE IN PERSON.

ABOUT 6 OR 8 STUDENTS LINKED UP AND DECIDED TO PLAN AN EVENT.

ALONG THE WAY, THEY'RE LIKE, WE SHOULD HAVE A NAME.

ONE OF THEM SAID, WE COULD BE 'TEENS TAKE CHARGE.'

HOW HAS THE GROUP GROWN THEN?

YOU TALKED ABOUT HOW IT HAS EXPANDED, BUT THE NUMBER OF TEENS PARTICIPATING.

WE HAD 6 OR 8 IN THAT ORIGINAL GROUP.

NOW, WE HAVE MORE THAN 30 STUDENTS IN SOME FASHION INVOLVED IN TEENS TAKE CHARGE.

WE HAVE EVENTS, WE HAVE UPWARDS OF 300 PEOPLE IN THOSE EVENTS.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE TEENS TAKE CHARGE PROGRAM?

I'M PART OF THE SCHOLAR, THE ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING FOR STUDENTS LOW-INCOME OR DEFINE THEMSELVES AS LOW-INCOME AND TECHNICALLY, IT HELPS YOU GRADUATE COLLEGE, NOT ONLY HIGH SCHOOL BUT COLLEGE AND TAYLOR WAS AN INSTRUCTOR.

HE CAME IN ONE AUGUST AND INTRODUCED THE SENIOR CLASS, UPCOMING SENIOR CLASS ABOUT 'TEENS TAKE CHARGE.'

I BECAME INTERESTED WHEN HE FIRST SAID NEW YORK CITY HAS THE MOST SEGREGATED PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

I THINK, I BELIEVE HE STARTED OFF, WHICH FATE HAS IT, HE ASKED THAT QUESTION.

DUST IT OUT.

WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN HE SAID NEW YORK?

COMPLETELY SURPRISED.

YOU'RE KIND OF BORN INTO THE SYSTEM AND YOU DON'T REALLY TAKE A STEP BACK TO LOOK AT IT.

WHEN HE SAID THAT, IT WAS A BLINDERS OFF THING.

I KNEW I HAD A LOT OF COMMENTS DURING THAT TIME.

I THOUGHT, I HAVE TO GET INVOLVED.

I HAD A CAMERA AND I TOLD TAYLOR, I COULD BE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU KNOW.

ALL RIGHT.

YOU WENT ON TO BE THE PERSON IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS AND YOU TOLD ME ALL YOU DO IN SOCIAL MEDIA.

I WILL COME BACK TO YOU.

LET'S COME BACK TO THE ISSUE THAT WE INTRODUCED HERE IN TERMS OF THE IDEA OF MOVING OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ZONE TO GO SOME PLACE ELSE.

IN THEORY, SOUNDS LIKE A MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY, FIND A BETTER SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND CHILDREN FOR THEMSELVES.

WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU SAW THE RESULTS OF THE NEW SCHOOL STUDY AND WHAT IT'S SUGGESTING IN TERMS OF THE PERCENTAGE, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THEIR SCHOOLS TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE?

I WASN'T SURPRISED BUT I KNEW ABOUT THE ISSUE FOR A WHILE AND TAUGHT AT A CHARTER SCHOOL AND WHAT LOT OF FAMILIES ARE LEAVING FOR.

I THINK YOUR QUESTION AT THE BEGINNING WAS A GOOD ONE.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SCHOOLS LEFT BEHIND?

WHAT HAPPENS TO STUDENTS IN SCHOOLS LOW PERFORMING KIDS ARE LEAVING OUT OF.

WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SCHOOL CHOICE, WE OFTEN TALK ABOUT IT IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, BUT IN FACT, REALLY, THE NATION'S LARGEST EXPERIMENT IN SCHOOL CHOICES HAPPENS IN NEW YORK CITY'S HIGH SCHOOLS.

THERE ARE NO SCHOOL ZONES IN HIGH SCHOOLS.

EVERY STUDENT IS EXERCISING CHOICE WHEN IT COMES TO HIGH SCHOOLS.

A NUMBER OF HIGH SCHOOLS, CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG, A NUMBER OF HIGH SCHOOLS HAVE AN ACADEMIC COMPONENT TO GET IN TO TEST AND GET INTO CERTAIN PLACES.

HOW ABOUT YOUR SCHOOLS?

YOU'RE A SENIOR AND YOU WILL GRADUATE, WHAT DID YOU SEE IN TERMS OF THE RACIAL MIX OF YOUR SCHOOLS AS YOU WERE GROWING UP?

I BELONG TO WHAT YOU CALL A ZONE SCHOOL BECAUSE I ONLY LIVE 10 MINUTES AWAY, I WALK TO SCHOOL EVERYDAY.

MOST OF THE STUDENTS THAT GO TO MY SCHOOL, THEY LOOK LIKE ME, THEY'RE LATINOS AND AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

FOR ME, IT WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM IF I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE THE RESOURCES OR THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE VERY LIMITED.

IT'S AN INTERESTING ISSUE.

ON SOME SURFACES IT SOUNDS LIKE A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME STUDENTS.

IT IS BUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE LEFT BEHIND.

YOU ARE GRADUATING, HEADING OFF TO NYU.

CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND TEENS TAKE CHARGE AND TAYLOR, HOPEFULLY THAT WILL CONTINUE TO GROW BECAUSE WE NEED TO HEAR YOUR VOICES OF YOUNG REASON.

THANK YOU FOR BOTH OF US.

YOU BOTH BE WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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