NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A change is coming in the way teachers educate New York City Public School students.
The Department of Education says the new policy will be more inclusive, highlighting more cultures in the classroom, but critics say the basics will get lost in the shuffle.
“I think it’s just wrong. I think it’s misguided,” parent Yiatin Chu said.
Chu is a New York City school parent and is not happy with a new initiative from the DOE called “Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education.”
It’s triggered more controversy over what kids should learn in public schools. The plan has teachers taking a very new approach.
“What am I teaching, how am I teaching, based on who I’m teaching,” teacher Maurice Blackmon said.
Blackmon has adopted the approach and the DOE is claiming “research shows that when students see themselves and their peers reflected in the books they read and the lessons they learn, academic outcomes improve.”
“For instance as a social studies teacher that serves a student body that is primarily Latin and black I have designed curricula around the hip-hop culture,” Blackmon explained.
Critics say classrooms can’t be easily categorized just by the student makeup and some will be left out by race-based lesson planning.
“How will our principals and teachers provide a curriculum that is inclusive?” Chu asked CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
Another question – will the plan take away from important subjects like reading and math?
“Absolutely not… Every culture has had math, every culture has contributed to technology, why don’t we acknowledge that?” Natasha Capers, the director of the NYC Coalition for Education Justice argued.
Wednesday night in Chinatown a sometimes raucous meeting took place, with many parents objecting to the plan.
“The Asian community, specifically the Chinese community, is one of the poorest communities in New York City and I’m disgusted that the mayor treats our group this way – aligning us with white privilege,” Chu countered, citing the large number of Asian students being left out of the educational conversation.
The DOE claims all kids benefit.
“So this approach is great for all children in that we have to honor who they are,” Jodi Friedman, the assistant principal of P.S. 63 said.
The DOE added now that a definition is in place, schools can start implementing the approach in September.