An irritated Mayor Bill de Blasio pointedly defended his school diversity efforts on WNYC Friday after a teen caller questioned his sense of urgency.
Phoning in to the Brian Lehrer show, student Tiffani Torres chided de Blasio directly for not taking sufficiently swift action in combating school segregation.
The miffed mayor lectured that Torres — a member of the Teens Take Charge activist group — had simply failed to grasp the scope and impact of his exertions.
“No previous mayor has focused on these issues the way I am and my team is,” he said at one point.
“I really think you’re not hearing what we are saying so I will repeat it,” de Blasio said, arguing that he has been rightly focused on the war over specialized high school admissions.
“You may feel it’s not important to address specialized high schools,” de Blasio told the Brooklyn student. “I do feel it’s important. I think what’s happening in our specialized high schools is a massive injustice.”
Teens Take Charge held a rally at Department of Education headquarters this week calling on de Blasio to provide instant relief for city kids trapped in racially homogenous classrooms.
Hizzoner reminded Torres that his handpicked School Diversity Advisory Group would soon be issuing a new report that would offer specific proposals to fight school segregation.
“I’m going to respond once they come forth with their recommendations,” de Blasio said. “There is a lot of energy and attention being put on this.”
De Blasio stressed the challenging nature of the problem and insisted that he was tackling it effectively.
“These are tough, tough issues based on 400 years of unjust history and economic injustice and housing injustice and so many other things,” he said. “We’re doing this the right way.”
While not given an opportunity to respond on air, Torres later tweeted her displeasure with the exchange.
“The longer we wait, the more students have to sit in segregated classrooms,” she tweeted. “To him, I repeat, how much longer will it take?”
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