Four New York City Department of Education Executives Claim They're Victims of 'Reverse Racism'

A view of the Lower Manhattan skyline from the Staten Island Ferry, March 14, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four administrators in New York City’s Department of Education are about to sue the city because, they say, they were moved into positions of less authority or just given less responsibility on account of their race.

To add insult to injury, the plaintiffs—all white women—allege that they were replaced with people of color they consider to be less qualified, according to the New York Post. The disgruntled group claims that schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has fostered “an environment which is hostile toward whites.”

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An unnamed source “familiar with the complaints” summed it up to the Post this way: “There’s a toxic-whiteness concept going on.”

Carranza has been known to take a firm stance against racism, including introducing a plan to eliminate the SHSAT, the city’s Specialized High School Admissions Test, which was met with opposition from some Asian communities.

Since Carranza started his job a little over a year ago, he’s worked to reduce racial disparities at the institutional level, even if it means calling out colleagues and constituents for being blind to their own racism. The Post previously detailed a confrontation in March between Carranza and a member of a local parent advisory board, Artemis Lekakis, who asked him if the city understood what getting rid of the SHSAT “would do to the reputation of those schools once the quality of the student body is changed somehow.”

Carranza responded with, “As a man of color, I’m going to call you on your language. The coded language that we use, where we’re ‘diluting’ these schools because we’re giving more opportunity to a wider array of students, is highly offensive.”

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The Post notes that under Carranza, the department has also implemented Courageous Conversation, a teaching process for understanding racism developed by consulting firm the Pacific Educational Group. The work is intended to facilitate much-needed deep-dive conversations. From PEG’s website:

We believe systemic racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all people, and especially people of color and indigenous people, to achieve at the highest levels. It fractures our communities and erodes the support and nourishment we would otherwise receive from them. We cannot hope to eliminate the racially predictable outcomes of our lives unless we first discuss race and racism in a way that is earnest, honest, and sustainable.

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But David Bloomfield, a professor of education at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, told the Post: “Since Carranza took office, he’s brought in a lot of new people. As a result, it’s been bureaucratic chaos and backbiting, with deputies and their subordinates seeking better perches in the pecking order. Racial tensions appear to be one manifestation of these internal battles.”

DOE spokesman Will Mantell dismissed the claims as baseless.

“We hire the right people to get the job done for kids and families,” he explained, “and any claim of ‘reverse racism’ has no basis in fact. We’ll continue to foster a supportive environment for all our employees.”

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Correction: Sept. 16, 2019, 9:03 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and to add fuller sourcing.

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