Years of research has shown that diverse, integrated schools benefit children from all backgrounds yet recent studies confirm that New York City has the most segregated school system in the entire country. This sorting of haves and have-nots has created a large number of struggling schools that fail to provide a quality of education that all children in NYC deserve. Current plans for rezoning in both DUMBO and the Upper West Side have brought a lot attention to this great divide and have highlighted the challenges of overcoming segregation caused by a variety of factors including DOE zoning policy, geography, real estate, and community choice.
However, recently there have been many voices across the city asking the DOE and Mayor to find a way to allow schools to create admissions policies that foster diversity (in fact the Community Education Council in District 13 has considered several ideas, including a process called controlled choice.) Up until now, the DOE has roundly ignored these requests, perhaps stymied by a legal footnote that has made creating any kind of income-based or race-based admissions quotas against the law. Certainly the challenges are huge with more than 1.1 million kids in the NYC public education system, but Chancellor Carmen Farina and Mayor Bill de Blasio have basically thrown their hands up, stating that creating desegregated schools in New York is nearly impossible. Instead, they are focusing efforts on building up individual schools to give families “school choice” as a way to encourage desegregation, but it has been demonstrated that this kind of choice can only make the situation worse. Unfortunately there are many parts of this city where families have few good options to choose from apart from charter schools. Without any significant leadership on this issue, New York will likely remain a “tale of two cities” for many years to come.
- The citywide debate about the challenges and benefits of school diversity and integration have been ignored by Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina up to now. (Politico)
- Forced busing didn’t fail. Desegregation is the best way to improve our schools. (Washington Post)
- De Blasio: City must respect families’ investments amid school diversity debates, desegregation is hard. (Chalkbeat)
- An article about how white students stand to benefit from attending racially diverse schools. (NPR)
- The Upper West Side is facing a similar contentious school rezoning similar to what is happening in Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, and Vinegar Hill. At the heart of the issue is race and class. (DNA Info)
- How a Legal Footnote Stymied Efforts to Desegregate New York City Schools. (WNYC)
- Parents Want ‘Controlled Choice’ to Say Where Kids Go to School. (DNA Info)
- This Brooklyn school is showing that overcoming the challenges of poverty is possible, in fact it is one of the best performing schools in the city. What’s their secret? (NY Times)