Mayor, Schools Chancellor Accept Most Recommendations from Diversity Task Force

Published by WNYC News

Two years after Mayor de Blasio convened a school diversity task force, he announced that the Department of Education will implement almost all of the group’s initial recommendations.

The DOE will fund efforts by five additional school districts to develop integration plans. So far, districts have used the grants to craft plans that change enrollment rules and eliminate selective admissions.

The five new districts include:

• District 9: Grand Concourse, Highbridge, Morrisania, University Heights (The Bronx)

• District 13: Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill (Brooklyn)

• District 16: Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn)

• District 28: Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park, Jamaica (Queens)

• District 31: Staten Island

The DOE will also create a General Assembly with student representatives from every high school, add diversity metrics to the School Quality Report, require schools to monitor and develop plans to address disparities in discipline, and advance curriculum that reflects a broad array of cultures and identities, along with other priorities.

“We’re making our schools stronger,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said, “because integrated classrooms lead to higher scores and academic outcomes, lower drop out rates and better critical thinking skills.”

Among the recommendations officials did not accept: the creation of a new position of Chief Integration Officer and an analysis of moving school safety agents from the supervision of the NYPD to that of the DOE.

The Student Diversity Advisory Group, composed of educators, advocates, parents and students, released its initial recommendations in a report in February. Students have criticized the mayor for moving too slowly on the issue, and hundreds rallied on the steps of the DOE’s headquarters last week.

Matthew Alexander Diaz, a member of the group IntegrateNYC and of the diversity task force, said he was gratified that the group adopted IntegrateNYC’s “5Rs” as a framework for the integration effort. He said he believes the steps will dramatically change city schools.

“The enrollment process is going to change, school safety [officers] and students’ relationships are going to change, and also … we’re giving resources to many schools,” he said.

But Tiffani Torres, a member of the group Teens Take Charge, who has been calling on the mayor to take more decisive action on high school enrollment, said she wants to see more explicit deadlines and direct accountability.

“Most of the words that they use are ‘encourage’ and ‘strongly support’ and ‘consider,'” she said, adding she wanted more “actionable” steps to “make sure that these plans work.”

The task force is expected to deliver its next set of recommendations on gifted and talented programs and screened admissions next month.

 

 

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