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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

NY City Council sees racism at every turn

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito during

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito during a news conference at City Hall on April 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The New York City Council unanimously passed a bill last week requiring that schools report the ethnic makeup of their student bodies once a year. A sponsor said the data will provide "a meaningful framework to promote inclusion and advance diversity."

But is it really necessary?

The City Council already knows how many public schools are predominantly nonwhite. Its so-called progressive members have been grousing about it since last year, when a gratuitous UCLA study labeled city schools the most segregated in America. Does the council simply want to add bean counters to reconfirm the statistics, or is it planning something dire?

I don't recall another era when ethnicities were considered so important. Whatever immigrant wave was hitting our shores at any moment pretty much represented the makeup of schools. Somehow everybody got by.

But everything seems to be about race these days, about skin color. It's an obsession of the new political left. Whatever happened to "content of their character"?

The real question is why so many individual African-American and Hispanic students are failing. Is it a plot?

Mona Davids, president of the grassroots New York City Parents Union, seemed to think so when the UCLA report came out. "Segregation is alive and well in New York City," she told the Daily News. "Every child does not have access to an equal education. It's scary."

But what if that's not true? What if every child does have access to a good education in New York, but not every child is capitalizing on it? What if the problem is rooted not in racism, but in something else?

We know empirically, for example, that students from single-parent households don't do nearly as well as kids from two-parent households. We also know that a disproportionate number of black and Latino kids come from single-parent homes. Solid data also tell us that ethnic communities which value education turn out successful students. Poor kids of Asian heritage earn their way to some of our best public high schools.

Maybe we should talk about that instead of fabricated racism. But the City Council wouldn't dare. It doesn't fit the "progressive" narrative of injustice around every corner.

William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant.


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