Students from one of the most exclusive New York City public high schools, which is 50 percent white, staged a walkout to demand more “diversity” in the city’s schools.
About 300 students at the prestigious Beacon High School walked out of class on Monday to demonstrate against the school’s admissions standards, according to the New York Times. They believe that rigid screening procedures have contributed to segregation in the school system.
“The abundance of privilege in our school is so universal that it usually goes unquestioned and unnoticed,” said Toby Paperno, a white student at the school.
During the protest, students chanted slogans such as “end Jim Crow” and “education is a right, not just for the rich and white.”
Washington Examiner reports: Beacon has a very selective admissions process that demands high test scores and requires students to compile a portfolio of their middle school work. Last year, the school saw more than 5,800 applications for just 360 seats.
Students argued that Beacon demonstrates a systemic issue of discrimination in the city’s school system. The largest in the country, the school system is about 70% black and Hispanic.
“Beacon is really important because if students within Beacon are saying that the system is not working, this means that even the ones who are benefiting are not having it, that this is not working for anyone,” said Carmen Lopez Villamil, a Hispanic student at the school.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose daughter is a Beacon alumna, has pushed for more diversity in schools but has not been able to implement a concrete plan. A panel commissioned by de Blasio recommended that New York not open any more screened schools and eliminate the majority of screening for middle schools.
“Our schools are stronger when they reflect the diversity of our city, and we’re taking a look at our admissions processes,” said Katie O’Hanlon, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Education.
Some parents are against the elimination of screening and have contended that students who work hard in middle school and show that they excel in academics should have the ability to attend the best high schools in the city.
The 30-minute walkout was planned by Teens Take Charge, a student group that advocates for more racial diversity in schools. The group has organized other demonstrations at public schools over the past few weeks.