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Growing up in Inglewood, California, Matt Gonzales and his friends cracked jokes about their segregated high school — an island of black and Hispanic students in the middle of an affluent, white neighborhood.
Gonzales saw that same racial and economic isolation again when he returned to the classroom years later, this time as a special education teacher in California.
But it wasn’t until he worked his way into graduate school at Columbia University’s Teachers College that Gonzales started to delve deeper into the issue of segregation.
Now, it’s his full-time job. Gonzales was recently named School Diversity Project director for New York Appleseed, the local chapter of a national nonprofit network that focuses on social justice issues.
Appleseed has already played an active role in the ongoing conversation about how to integrate New York City schools. Executive Director David Tipson helped shape the state’s Socioeconomic Integration Pilot Program, which offered grants to help boost struggling schools by making them more diverse. And in school Districts 13, which received a SIPP grant, Appleseed is helping lay the groundwork for integration plans.
With Gonzales on board, and a new school year starting soon, Appleseed is hoping to grow its impact. Gonzales has plans to forge new partnerships and bring together the various groups already working on school diversity issues. Most of all, Gonzales said he wants to give students a voice in the process, and is already working with a Bronx-based student group called IntegrateNYC4Me to do that.
(the text above is part of the article by Christina Veiga, “New York Appleseed’s new diversity director wants to enlist more students in the push for integrated schools” which appeared on chalkbeat.org on Aug. 29, 2016)