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Politics & Government

Green Party's Howie Hawkins: Desegregation in City Schools is Key to Better Student Performance

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WAER News

Green Party Candidate for Syracuse Mayor Howie Hawkins pointed to the crumbling condition of the Westside Academy at Blodgett today as an example of the inequality of education in the city. Hawkins scolded the Joint School construction board for failing to make the school a priority, leaving families uncertain about the future. 

"There's $17 million that could be  available, and the Joint Schools Construction Board hasn't even decided whether they're going to do that, at least make the school safer.  If they close the school, which is the other option, these middle school kids will have to walk 1.2 miles up to Shea in another neighborhood, and that'll be even more of a burden on the kids in this neighborhood, and that's not right."

Hawkins it’s also damaging for schools like Blodgett to be defined as "struggling."  He rejects the state’s use of  test-scores to determine whether the school should be taken over.

"The only place where you have 'struggling' schools  are in these high poverty neighborhoods, and it's no surprise.  Yet, they give these tests, then punish the schools, teachers, and students basically for being poor.  Then they call them 'struggling,' then the next step is state receivership and turn the school over to a private charter organization."

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Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News
The Westside Academy at Blodgett.

Hawkins says both economic and racial integration are key to bringing up student performance.  

"When you look at the data from the 1960's on, study after study shows when you concentrate poor kids of any race in schools, they score poorly on standardized tests and bring the problems of poverty into the schools.   Nothing comes close to improving educational outcomes on standardized tests and other measures than desegregation."

Hawkins is in a four-way race for mayor with Republican Laura Lavine, Independent Ben Walsh, and Democrat Juanita Perez Williams.