DECEMBER 4, 1956
NEW YORK—I said in this column recently that I did not see how, without desegregation in housing, any real advance could be made in racial integration in our New York City school system.
I have now had a report, however, which tells of the things being done, and I am very pleased and proud that the New York City Commission on Integration Relations, which was created by local law to help work out some of these problems, has done such a successful job.
Dr. Frank Horne, the director, is very able and, with his staff, it is hoped he will be able to assist the Board of Education in achieving better integration of schools in spite of existing minority concentration patterns.
These are the things that have been done:
"1. Better zoning of school buildings to promote integration. For example, in certain areas of the city if you zone a school North and South, you may have a total or primarily white school population; while if you zone it East and West, you might get a more integrated population.
"2. Better selection of sites for new school buildings. It has been recommended by the commission that in the future integration be one of the important factors considered in selecting school sites.
"In all cases, schools should be built as near as possible to fringe or white areas so that it will be possible to have an integrated school population.
"3. The commission has also recommended that in areas where the population is changing, school buildings which are now inadequate should be replaced or modernized as an incentive to keep some of the existing white residents in the area. An example of this is a proposed new school near Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights.
"4. When children must be bused to school because of overcrowding of the schools in their immediate vicinity, it is frequently possible to further integration by the selection of schools to which the children are bused.
"This does not imply busing children solely to achieve integration where school facilities are available. Rather it means that in no case will white children be bussed past a nearer, predominantly Negro school (which, we are told, has sometimes happened in the past)."
This report is much more encouraging than I had expected, and while I am told that we cannot have a completely successful integrated school system until housing is completely integrated, it is encouraging to know that we are actually doing something.
I hope all the other big cities with the same problem are having as much success and making as great an effort as we are. I want to congratulate Dr. William Jansen, superintendent of schools, and the Board of Education.