Urban Middle Class Boosts School Diversity

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Monday, October 29, 2012

As taped piano music plays, Ashley Brown issues a stream of commands. Firm and insistent, she strides around the tiny studio and puts her third-period ballet students through their steady, rhythmic paces.

What her eighth- and ninth-grade dancers may not notice is the larger ballet they're part of: the fraught, decades-old dance — one step forward, two steps back — of who goes to school where, and with whom.

They're doing nothing less than integrating a city. Now in its fourth year, Brooklyn Prospect Charter School is one of a small but growing group of schools that actively seeks to fill its seats with students from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Researchers say schools like it are getting a boost from urban middle-class parents who are quietly saying "No" to the typical suburban exodus once their kids reach kindergarten.

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