New America Media (NAM) facilitated a panel of distinguished education advocates hosted by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice – L.A. in their downtown location. The topic of the panel’s discussion was “The Triple Segregation of California’s Schools” especially in the greater Los Angeles area. The esteemed panel included Dr. Gary Orfield, Co-Director, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Dr. Patricia Gandara, Co-Director, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Constance Rice, Co-Director, Advancement Project, Michele Siqueiros, Executive Director, The Campaign for College Opportunity, and Stewart Kwoh, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – L.A., and the moderator was Sandy Close, Executive Director, New America Media.
A recent study released by Dr. Orfield and his team states that California Schools are more segregated now than in the past. Orfield who also co-founded and directed the Harvard Civil Rights Project said that since Brown V. Board of Education, white population growth has declined while Latino population has increased, and that the majority of black students are segregated on campuses with majority Latino students, who are also typically poor.
Dr. Gandara said that most English learner students spend very little time in classes actually learning English, and that re-classification is the dominant metric utilized to move students out of EL classes and into the general curriculum. Constance (aka Connie) Rice said that the segregation problem is a political one, and that positive incentives must be used to deal with class, isolation, and race barriers that affect students. She believes that de-segregation can be accomplished through music, art, and sports programs.
Michele Siqueiros said that her son attends a middle school in L.A. that resembles an apartheid school because its mostly Latino with a handful of blacks, however her daughter attends an elementary school that is as diverse as the entire city of L.A., which she prefers, and believes that is why her daughter’s school out performs her son’s school academically.
Stewart Kwoh said that generally most Asians value quality education for their children – but that they also understand the value of their children’s classmates receiving a quality education because it will affect Asians quality of life as well. Kwoh referred to a Mandarin dual immersion program at City Terrace Elementary school near Cal State L.A., and believes more students should have an opportunity to benefit from such programs. This writer had an opportunity to recently train a group of parents at City Terrace and agrees.