Teens Take Charge

65 Years after Brown v. Board of Education, New York City’s public schools are among the most segregated in the nation. Now, teens have demanded to be in the room where it happens.

A coalition of high school youth across NYC formed a student advocacy group, Teens Take Charge, to call on Mayor De Blasio for action. New York City’s public high schools desperately need to racially, socioeconomically and academically integrate and youth need us to follow their lead.

Join Teens Take Charge in their fight: share this video to keep your community informed and help these teens #IntegrateNow. For more information go to www.teenstakecharge.com

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– 65 years after Brown V. Board, and here I am talking about
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segregation in New York City.
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One of the most diverse cities in the world.
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My name is Lennox Thomas, and I’m in the 12th grade.
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Teens Take Charge is a student advocacy organization
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and we’re about integrating New York City public high schools.
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– My name is Tiffany Torres and I’m a senior in high school.
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For me, applying to high school was kind of tricky.
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My parents being immigrants from the Dominican Republic,
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I didn’t have a lot of support.
00:48
– My name is Marcus, and I’m a senior at Pace High School.
00:51
I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
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My grandma was one of the people fighting for integration
00:56
back in her day and I’m fighting for the same thing now.
01:00
– I would think that there should have been a big change from
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the time that I went up to the time that he’s going to school.
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– We actually have a more segregated school system
01:10
than it was 65 years ago.
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-Although African-Americans and Latinos
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make up 70 percent of all public school students,
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they make up barely 10 percent in elite public high schools.
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– We didn’t find out about the specialized high school test
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until a week before the test was administered.
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There was no support whatsoever.
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– I took the specialized high school admissions test twice. I failed both times.
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– Though I surpassed the academic requirements for this school,
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I was not accepted.
01:42
– I just really started to like get angry.
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– I was resentful towards the way the system works
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and how it targets students of color.
01:53
It wasn’t until I discovered Teens Take Charge, that I realized that I could actually contribute.
02:00
– Teens Take Charge has three main proposals
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to integrate the schools. The first proposal is to introduce
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academic cutoffs,
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so that there’s a mix of high performing and low performing students in a school.
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The second is a more transparent high school directory book.
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The third is our top 7 percent plan. If every specialized high school reserved spots for
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the top 7 percent of every middle school,
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they would be diverse and represent the actual demographics of New York City.
02:28
We’ve had multiple sit downs with policymakers, but we realized that nothing was changing.
02:32
We were having the same conversation.
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We are going to take matters into our own hands
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and so we’re going to disrupt your day.
02:38
So I ask you all, where is our mayor?
02:41
– It was our first rally. We planned it in two weeks.
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We had over 600 students come out, and we told students,
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“if you go to a white and Asian school wear a white t-shirt.
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If you go to a Black and Latinx school, wear a black T-shirt.”
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We had them sit on opposite sides and we can clearly see segregation.
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I think people were really inspired after the rally
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to keep fighting.
03:04
-Well, we would love to let the grown-ups solve the problem,
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but the issue is that you guys are not solving the problem.
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– At this point, it’s too late for me. I can’t go back in time.
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It’s not about you, it’s about those who come after you.
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– The reason why I’m doing this is because I hope that my
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children can go to an integrated school system.
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– I refuse to be another black male student who just couldn’t make it.
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I refuse to be compliant with the system that allows my people to leave their classrooms,
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just to walk straight into a prison cell.
03:36
We demand change and we demand it now.

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