Susan Edelman, New York Post, September 2, 2018
A diversity drive is spreading across the city as 78 schools in 14 of the city’s 32 community districts now boast plans that will give admission priority to predominantly black and Hispanic kids — and more schools will soon follow, a Post analysis found.
The patchwork of plans, while still limited in scope — the city has 1,800 schools — amounts to the biggest de-segregation movement in Big Apple schools since the late-1950s Civil Rights era, when there was an abortive program to bus black kids from Bedford-Stuyvesant and East Harlem to white areas in Queens, a top scholar said.
“I cannot think of any other time where there have been such efforts to try to alter the racial or ethnic makeup of New York City schools,” said Stephan Brumberg, a professor emeritus of education history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
Citywide, the current racial breakdown of NYC’s public-school students is 41 percent Hispanic, 26 percent black, 16 percent Asian, 15 percent white, and 2 percent “mixed.”
Last year, 49 schools were on board the city Department of Education’s “Diversity in Admissions” pilot initiative, offering a variety of pre-K to high-school seats to English-language learners and kids from low-income families, in the child-welfare system, or with parents in jail.
The DOE could not say Friday how last year’s offers affected enrollment in the school year that starts Wednesday, saying the data won’t be finalized until fall.
New schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has embraced diversity efforts more aggressively than Mayor de Blasio, who hired him.
Carranza is now poised to approve a far more ambitious plan that has divided parents in Brooklyn’s District 15, including affluent neighborhoods like Park Slope. It will eliminate all academic-based admission criteria at 16 middle schools — and reserve 52 percent of seats for low-income, English-learning and homeless applicants.
Some Park Slope parents have told The Post the schools should keep some admission criteria, but fear speaking up lest they be painted as a “racist from 1950s Alabama,” as one mom put it.
Other parents have pushed for the plan. Lauren Gropp Lowry, a white stay-at-home mom with a second grader at high-performing PS 321, said the current system lets schools cherry-pick kids.
The Center for New York City Affairs, which plans to release a detailed study on the diversity plans this month, has spotted flops as well as successes.
For instance, District 1’s East Side Community School in the East Village, which serves grades 6-12, agreed last year to offer 62 percent of its seats to low-income kids entering 6th grade. It exceeded that goal, enrolling 63 percent. But it actually slid from the prior year, 2016-17, when 65 percent of its students were low-income.
In another odd case, the grade 9-12 Williamsburg Preparatory School, in District 14, volunteered to offer “up to 62 percent” of freshmen seats to low-income students in 2018-19. But in 2017-18 the school already had 86 percent low-income students.
Among successes, Brooklyn Arts and Science Elementary School in Crown Heights, in District 17, had 7 percent of Kindergarten students learning to speak English in 2015-16. It set a goal to admit 20 percent the next year. It fell short, but still doubled English-learners to 15 percent.
None of the current diversity plans call for racial quotas in light of a 2007 US Supreme Court ruling that struck down Seattle’s use of race in admissions. The targeted NYC kids, however, are mostly minority.