Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Does Central Falls Exist?

Referring to Central Falls, RI as a small city as the NY Times did today doesn't quite capture the nature of the place. It is 1.3 square miles of very dense, high poverty tenement housing, old textile mills and some shopping. But basically, if you drive north from Providence, you continue through the formerly industrial city of Pawtucket, and then you briefly pass through even bleaker Central Falls before entering more suburban zones. Map.

Central Falls is, essentially, an American township:

In South Africa, the term township usually refers to the (often underdeveloped) urban living areas that, under Apartheid, were reserved for non-whites (principally black Africans and Coloureds, but also working class Indians). Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities.

It is a particularly egregious example of apartheid schooling in America. Our current state and federal "reform" agenda is completely incapable of and uninterested in addressing this kind of structural problem.

Central Falls schools should be desegregated via integration into the surrounding communities, including the two adjoining suburban communities. Anything else is just trying to figure out how to make separate equal.

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