During a seminar on July sixth at the Hofstra Journalism Institute, John McNally, environmental and communication director for the Rauch Foundation, stated that Long Island is known for being the third most segregated suburban community in the country. Long Island has been known for having schools that are among the best in the nation, but it also contains many poorly performing schools. Many of the poorly performing schools are isolated in small, less funded school districts. The bad school districts are set apart by the income disparity amongst different areas and races. The Long Island Index claims that “[b]lack and Latino children attend schools with poor academic records and a largely minority student body in areas characterized by higher poverty rates than schools attended by most Whites on Long Island.”
Many people on Long Island are oblivious to the segregation around them. A majority of the White Long Islanders goes to non-diverse schools and they believe that children from different racial and economic backgrounds receive the same education that they do. 57% of the local Long Islanders believe that a child from a low-income family receives the same or better educational quality as a child from a middle-income family according to the Long Island Index. This, unfortunately, is not the case.
The people attending the high income schools are predominantly White. There are only 15% Black/Hispanic people and 6% Asian leaving the 79% to White people on Long Island. In the low income schools, however, the majority is Black/Hispanic people at 90% and White people are in the minority at 9% while Asians are at 1%. Judging by the data compiled by the Long Island Index, it is quite clear that 88% of high income students meet the 4th grade English standards, whereas, only 66% in the low income schools meet those same standards.
Not surprisingly, residents of high-need districts are less satisfied with their schools then that of residents in low-need districts. 46% of residents rated their school districts as excellent in the high-need districts, while those in the low-need districts rated 77%. High-need schools, with a predominantly Black and Latino student body, have far worse educational outcomes than average or low-need districts.
According to McNally, people should be exposed to the way the lower income schools are and to be aware to what is happening in higher-need districts. “Look at this breaking point and think how it can fundamentally change things. Look at it as an opportunity,” he says. McNally also advises to think of ways to better invest the money that is gained for the schools. If the district lines are drawn at the town level, many of the districts differences would disappear. Together the people can also strive to make all the students at regional level. Not only will brighter kids get even better grades but so will the mediocre and usually poorly performing students. McNally reminds Long Islanders to not think about what the school districts were in the past or are currently- but what it can be in the future.