On March 29 Public Counsel co-hosted a forum with the Peer Defense Project, a New York-based intergenerational legal organization, to talk about building a movement for racial justice in public education. The event marked the one-year anniversary since filing IntegrateNYC v New York, a first-of-its kind lawsuit on behalf of New York City students asserting their right to an anti-racist education. The forum featured speakers from a diverse array of organizations including IntegrateNYC, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Strategy for Black Lives, and many others. The rich discussion gave advocates who work on a variety of intersecting issues, from fighting truth bans in school districts across the nation to utilizing an anti-racist education to address anti-Asian hate crimes, an opportunity to articulate their vision for justice and truth for New York City students.
While IntegrateNYC v New York winds its way through the court, the State and City of New York have refused to acknowledge the harm they are inflicting upon Black and Latinx students, claiming they aren’t violating students’ civil rights while running the most segregated school system in the nation. However, New York City public school students are in a system that doesn’t recognize their diversity of experiences and humanity, and reproduces racial inequality through an early tracking system that sorts students and shuts many out of opportunities to learn and grow; teachers that don’t reflect the students they’re serving; and a Eurocentric curriculum that doesn’t adequately prepare students for the multi-racial society they are inheriting. The students who brought this lawsuit know what a just education looks like, we are proud to fight beside them to ensure they get it.