Statement of City Council Members Brad Lander & Ritchie Torres on the NYC Department of Education’s Plan for “Diversity In NYC’s Public Schools”

Statement of City Council Members Brad Lander & Ritchie Torres on the NYC Department of Education’s Plan for “Diversity In NYC’s Public Schools”

June 6, 2017
New York, New York

The Department of Education’s “Diversity in NYC’s Public Schools” plan is a serious start to a decades-overdue effort to curb school segregation in New York City. We have a long way to go to achieve systemic change.

The setting of concrete targets -- increasing the number of students in integrated school by 50,000, and reducing the number of economically stratified schools by 10% (150 schools) -- is a bona-fide breakthrough. We are not aware of any other big city that has voluntarily set such goals. We appreciate the creation of the School Diversity Advisory Group, the inclusion of district-wide and system-wide actions, and the commitment to end some -- though far from all -- of the admissions policies that institutionalize discrimination.

The plan reflects a change of approach that would not have happened without the insistent activism of students and teachers, parents and public officials, all with an eye toward recapturing the spirit of Brown vs. Board of Education. Segregated schools cannot teach inclusive democracy.

We are sorry to see that the plan does not use the words “segregation” and “integration,” but instead sticks to the more anodyne “diversity.” We will not break the cycle of segregation if we cannot even name it.

We are hopeful that the DOE's plan will sow the seeds of even deeper change: implementing controlled choice, addressing the discriminatory impact of screened schools, confronting the impact of residential segregation on elementary schools, and achieving culturally-responsive education.

We commit to working together with the Department of Education, students, parents, educators, civil rights advocates, and community members toward this urgent goal.

Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres are Deputy Leaders of the New York City Council, and sponsors of the School Diversity Accountability Act, which passed in 2015.

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