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White Manhattan Parents Raise Hell Over Diversity Efforts That Will Bring More Black Students to Their Schools

Some Manhattan parents aren’t too pleased with a new effort to diversify schools on the city’s Upper West Side, a neighborhood teeming with affluent white families.

Video posted by Spectrum News NY1 shows angry parents shouting down plans to require its local middle schools to set aside a quarter of its seats for students who score below grade level on state and English exams. District leaders said the move is aimed at increasing diversity across its schools to better reflect the demographics of the city.

However, some parents are concerned the plan will shut high-performing students out of the district’s most desirable schools.

“…You’re talking about telling an 11-year-old, ‘You worked your butt off and you didn’t get that, what you needed and wanted,'” one parent said at a Tuesday meeting. “You’re telling them ‘You’re going to go to a school that is not going to educate you in the same way that you’ve been educated. Life sucks!’ Is that what the DOE [Department of Education] wants to say?”

Kristen Berger, a member of the Upper West Side Elected Parent Council, explained that the plan is intended to address diversity issues in local area middle schools, which she described as “very segregated.”

School principal Henry Zymeck also addressed parents, saying he felt hurt by some of the comments.

“There are kids that are tremendously disadvantaged, that I would love to be able to offer — somebody mentioned $5,000-worth of tutoring for to raise their test scores,” Zymeck said. “And to compare these students and say, ‘My already-advantage kid needs more advantage! They need to be kept away from those kids!’ is tremendously offensive to me.”

The decision on whether the district will adopt the policy now lies in the hands of the superintendent.

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