New York Panel Wants To Increase Diversity In School, But Black Americans Have Different Ideas

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

A New York City panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to increase diversity in its schools, but some Black Americans are attending an alternative option as they feel integrated schools are not meeting their needs.

The School Diversity Advisory Group released a set of suggestions Tuesday, which include:

  • Elementary and middle schools should be measured against their district’s racial, economic, Multilingual Learner (MLL) and Students with Disabilities (SWD) percentages,

  • Consider incentives to secure charter school commitments to diversity and integration,

  • Implement ethnic and culturally responsive courses for all students that include religious literacy and disability studies,

  • Require all schools to monitor student discipline practices and develop a plan to reduce disparities in how students are disciplined.

But some Black Americans are choosing to send their children to Afrocentric schools, or educational institutions focusing on black culture, literature and history, according a Jan. 8 New York Times article. Afrocentric schools predominantly have black students though individuals of any race can apply. Parents who choose to send their kids to such schools feel inequities are still prevalent in integrated schools.

“These are families who are looking to send their children to schools in places that affirm them, in places where they might learn with teachers who look like them and appreciate the cultural assets they bring to school,” Executive Director for New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools David Kirkland said to The Daily Caller News Foundation over email. “The current [sic] popularity of Afrocentric schooling among Black parents isn’t against integration, but the failures of desegregation and the ongoing erasure of Black life as a credible aspect of American schooling.”

De Blasio has tried to address diversity concerns recently. A bill passed in September 2018 aimed to diversify Brooklyn’s 15th district by requiring the 11 middle schools to forego academic criteria like auditions, test scores and grades, the New York Post reported. Half the seats would be set aside for low-income, English language learners and homeless students.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Another proposed plan for Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which would require 17 middle schools to reserve a quarter of its spots for students scoring below grade level on state math and English tests, was met with dissent from some parents, according to NY1. These parents believed high scoring students would be left out. (RELATED: Black Americans Explain Why They Left The Democratic Party)

A similar initiative would phase out a test which determines admissions into the city’s eight specialized high schools, according to Chalkbeat. The top 7 percent from each city middle school would have guaranteed admissions, but some Manhattan parents argued that the plan would open up entrance to students ill-equipped to the rigorous curriculum. Asian-American parents and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against New York City officials over the plan in December 2018, The Washington Post reported.

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Tags : bill de blasio department of education new york city
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