High school uses racial segregation as learning tool

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By Ashley N. Jefferson
NBC Philadelphia

The idea of racial segregation occurring in America seems like a long lost concept of the past. However, African-American students at McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are experiencing these realities for themselves.

For six minutes each day and 20 minutes twice a month, the African-American students are segregated by race and gender from the rest of the student body population. Although no other races are separated, the purpose is not to encourage racial divide, but to help improve academics.

Last year, only a small fraction of African-American students at the high school scored proficient or advanced in their PSSA testing. Upon seeing the statistics, Angela Tilghman, a faculty member, suggested the controversial idea.

“It isn’t that we’re anti-anything,” Tilghman told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re just trying to promote the idea of African-American students as successful academic individuals.”

The segregation is intended to be a mentoring program, with African-American teachers acting as role models, encouraging students to strive for a bright future. While the program is not mandatory, only a handful of students opted out of participating.

The decision to implement the program has sparked an array of controversy in the Lancaster School District. The debate will continue as residents are invited to voice their opinions during the school board’s Public Engagement Committee Meeting. The meeting is slated for Tuesday at 4:30pm at McCaskey East High School.

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