Tanzina Vega starts the journey across the country with her hometown of NYC. She talks to Max Freedman and Mark Winston Griffith hosts of “School Colors,” a podcast focused on how race, class and power shape public education. The talk about how getting into a “good” school can sometimes make parents throw elbows in what can feel like a game of winners and losers.
Public education in the United States rests on a fundamental paradox: we view it as “the great equalizer” and the pathway to upward mobility, yet it is largely funded by local property taxes and zoned within economically and racially segregated local communities. This combination means those with the most wealth and privilege get access to the best public schools, and those with the least, get the worst.
When parents see the path to economic success narrowing for their children,their anxiety rises. It becomes harder to see the bigger picture of equity and success for all kids, and easier to get tunnel vision about making sure “my kid” gets what they need to succeed in a competitive, zero-sum world.