New York City has one of the most segregated school systems in the country. This episode of The Race Gap in the U.S. takes a deep dive into the intricacies of a system that has experienced many changes and still managed to stay the same, perpetuating in the process the stark racial inequities that have plagued U.S. society.
The hour-long documentary profiles schools with a lack of resources located in disadvantaged areas with school kids who are often black and from single-parent households in low-income neighborhoods. It shows how this scenario sharply contrasts with schools in more affluent areas where students are from families who can afford private mentoring and training and whose parents have the time needed to navigate the difficult process of getting them accepted into elite, specialized high schools. With some exceptions, the education system has largely failed to deliver on the promise of leveling the playing field for those children who are not born with adequate opportunities.
From the Bronx to Brooklyn, students and parents share their dreams, frustrations and fears with correspondent Gerry Hadden. He traces the causes of these dysfunctions with the help of scholars, activists and experts like Cecilia Muñoz, former director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council under president Barack Obama. In her opinion, “The educational system is essential to a well-functioning democracy, to our ability to succeed economically, to our ability to get anywhere close to the kind of equity that our founding principles promise. So educational outcomes, addressing disparities and educational outcomes, making sure we're looking at equity and quality is absolutely vital”.