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Manhattan school to sort kids by race during social justice discussions

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A Manhattan junior high school plans to racially separate students while discussing identity and social justice topics next week, The Post has learned.

The Lower Manhattan Community School will conduct the controversial exercises as part of its mission to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community,” according to an email sent to parents.

Kids in grades seven and eight will opt into one of five categories, Principal Shanna Douglas wrote in the message.

Whites, Asians, and multi-racial students have their own categories, while African-American and Hispanic students are combined into one group, according to her email.

“On November 23rd and 24th, 7th and 8th graders will explore the question ‘How do our racial identities influence our experiences?’ in affinity groups,” Douglas announced. “An affinity group is a group formed around a shared interest.”

The school has also offered an additional group, which appears to be for those uncomfortable with the format.

That cluster will enter with discussion asking “Why are we even talking about racial identity?” according to the message.

“This optional program was developed in close coordination with both the School Leadership Team, PTA and families,” said DOE spokesperson Nathaniel Styer, who said it is “abundantly clear to both students and parents that anyone can opt-out of this two day celebration if they desire.”

The school emailed parents to explain that the point of the exercise is to
The school emailed parents to explain that the point of the exercise is to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community.”
Matthew McDermott

Douglas said she is further emphasizing race this year because “students are talking about it since race has become a popular topic on social media, or parents are talking even more about it at home due to the recent incidents across the nation,” she wrote.

She added that the school — which is 44 percent Asian, 29 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent black — had failed to adequately address race issues in the past.

An LMC parent conceded that affinity groups can be fraught, but said staffers can shepherd them appropriately.

“I think our teachers know how to handle it,” the mom said.

Another parent echoed that position thought outside the school Thursday and said she didn’t object to the classes.

“The staff is very good about being clear when it comes to race,” she said.

DOE spokesperson Nathaniel Styer claimed that
DOE spokesperson Nathaniel Styer claimed that “anyone can opt-out of this two day celebration if they desire.”
Matthew McDermott

But the racial sorting troubled other parents who said the approach is inherently divisive.

“I think a lot of us feel like this is too much,” said another mother. “But most parents are too afraid to say anything at this point. Why are we separating our kids like this?”

An LMC dad said some families want the school to prioritize traditional academics rather than politically-tinged material.

“Teach the history,” he said. “Tell that story. I’m all for an honest accounting. But this is something different. It’s insidious.”

Douglas closed the announcement by asking concerned parents to contact her.
“I know that RACE is a complex issue for us all to address,” she wrote in the email.



Read More: Manhattan school to sort kids by race during social justice discussions

2021-11-19 01:49:00

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