What would you say about a person who has written about American education for decades and says in an editorial in the NY Daily News:
But, above all, let us not create public schools that separate our students into ethnic and cultural enclaves. That way betrays the purpose of public education.
You might say she was a progressive proponent of social justice and so was editorializing fervent opposition to racial and cultural discrimination. You might think she sees the segregated nature of America’s urban and suburban schools and is writing to oppose it. You might suppose that she is aware that in the dozen largest urban schools districts, most white kids go to majority white schools and mostly non-white kids go to majority non-white schools more than fifty years after Brown vs Board of Education.
But you would be wrong.
Instead she is writing an attack on a plan to open a public school in New York called the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
The school’s organizers state the following as their mission:
The Khalil Gibran International Academy’s mission is to prepare students of diverse backgrounds for success in an increasingly global and interdependent society. Our focus is on holistic student development and rigorous academics. Through our multicultural curriculum and intensive Arabic language instruction, students graduate with the skills they need to become empowered independent thinkers who are able to work with cultures beyond their own. Students graduate with a deep understanding of different cultural perspectives, a love of learning, and a desire for excellence, with integrity preparing them for leadership in today’s constantly changing global world.
But Ravitch says:
There is no question that our nation needs more people who can read and speak Arabic. This is a good reason to establish Arabic classes in public high schools. But it is not a reason to create a school that is centered entirely on Arabic studies.
I don’t know what America Ravitch lives in. But the America I know already has lots of public schools that separate students into “ethnic and cultural enclaves.” These enclaves are the result of years of forced segregated housing practices and outright racist admission practices. For years these schools have been illegal. Still they persist. How hypocritical then is it to attack a proposed school, open to all, that has an Arab cultural focus?
Unless, of course, you had another agenda.