Tag Archives: integration

The Mayor Releases the School Diversity Advisory Group Interim Report: a Tepid Report with No Time Frame for Implementation

The long delayed Report was released on Tuesday, no roll of drums, a “soft” release with tepid, or shall I say a “toe-in-the-water” set of recommendations.

The NY Times headlines, “New York Public Schools Should Be Evaluated on Diversity, Not Just Tests, Panel Says,”

Over the next five years, the panel recommended, elementary and middle schools should reflect the racial makeup of their local school district, and high schools should look as much like their local borough as possible, in terms of race, income level, disability and proficiency in English.

 The education website Chalkbeat emphasizes what is not in the Report, “De Blasio’s School DiversityAdvisory Group issues its first Report — but it doesn’t touch the SHSAT or Gifted and Talented ”

… the group calls for more schools to represent the demographics of their immediate districts rather than the city as a whole. And it calls out nine specific districts that should be required to come up with integration plan.

 … the report is also notable for what it doesn’t include: It does not address the mayor’s controversial proposal to integrate the city’s elite specialized high schools. Nor does it say what to do about segregated gifted and talented programs or selective admissions policies more broadly (those issues are expected to be addressed later).

 The 118-page Report,  is rich in data with many charts and graphs, student demographics by race by district as well as teachers, principals and suspensions.

The Report is carefully written, dozens of recommendations and proposed strategies with a 3-5 year time frame.

Screened middle schools are commonplace across the city, schools that select students by grades on standards tests and other surrogates for race and class. The Report has “serious concerns,”

As an Advisory Group, we have serious concerns about the practice of screening students for middle school admissions – both because of the experience it creates for students and because of the impact it seemingly has on segregation in middle school. The Advisory Group will continue to consider the impact of middle school screens for its final report. However, it is important to this group that we consider the unintended consequences and the potential replacement policies before we move forward on any recommendations on this topic

 The Report has a major caveat, “unintended consequences,” meaning the fear of white/middle class flight.  Aggressive school integration initiatives not only did not achieve their goals in some instances the result exacerbated school segregation.

Admittance screening barriers in high schools are widespread, the Report, again, acknowledges the problem and tip-toes, avoiding any specific policies,

While we as an Advisory Group acknowledge the demographic imbalance in the City’s screened programs, we also recognize the advantage for all students to have access to academically advanced courses as well as the advantages that come from an academic experience fostered by a diverse environment, particularly in high school. The Advisory Group plans to continue examining the admissions practices of NYC high schools, and plans to look at admissions practices that have successfully led to high-performing, integrated school communities elsewhere, before making final recommendations.

New York City has a long history of gifted programs, Intellectually Gifted Programs (IGC) in grades 4, 5 and 6 determined by test scores, Special Progress (SP) classes in Junior High School, a few school districts collected all high achieving kids and placed them in gifted a school, under decentralization school districts had wide latitude, some districts tested kids and placed kids in classes with glitzy names (“Eagle”).

The Bloomberg/Klein administration was more cynical, screened programs were authorized across the city with test scores, interviews, portfolios  etc., required for admission, and , yes, in too many instances the programs/schools were segregated by race.  Most of the screened programs are in Manhattan, a lot less expensive than $40,000 for private school tuition.

The Specialized High Schools admission standards are not addressed in the Report, although, the resuscitated Discovery Program could increase students of color, we won’t know until the end of summer.  The nine districts listed in the Report will be encouraged to create their own plans, there may not be as much enthusiasm as there was in District 1 (Lower East Side) 3 (Upper West Side) and 15.Brownstone Brooklyn).

Under decentralization District 22 created one of the largest integration programs in the nation – over 1,000 Afro-American kids were bused from overcrowded all minority schools to underutilized white schools. The program was created by an elected school board was support from the electeds. It faded away under mayoral control. The current local boards, CECs, are ‘elected” by the local officers of parent associations. The CECs do have zoning authority within their district, albeit, with the approval of the Chancellor.

A mayor with “aspirations,” who defines himself as the most progressive mayor in the nation, who wants to build his progressive resume without alienating middle class white families, aka, “unintended consequences.”

Reminds me of the 19th century term, “mugwump .”

The Report has dozens of recommendations, a section rolling culturally relevant pedagogy into schools across the city, as well as training staff and prospective staff; recommendations to increase the role of parents and on and on.

The many datasets are interesting, and, raise questions. Why the sharp disparity in suspensions from district to district?  More effective restorative justice programs or superintendents tightening the faucet?  District 23, Brownsville, with among the highest crime rates in the city has among the lowest suspension rates, District 19, East New York, along side Brownsville, many more suspensions. District 23 also has (not in the Report) many instances of kids not receiving mandated Special Education services: a coincidence or district leadership that simply prohibits suspensions and ignores Special Education service mandates?

There are lots of doubts whether the administration or the chancellor intends to act aggressively. Tweets from NY Times reporter,

Eliza Shapiro‏ @elizashapiro

I heard a sense of resignation today on de Blasio’s willingness to integrate schools among some members of the working group today. When I asked about whether City Hall is going to make integration a priority, Maya Wiley [committee co-chair] noted that the mayor is only in office for 3 more yrs.

What if a good school in NYC meant a racially integrated school, not just a school with high test scores? It’s up to de Blasio, who has spent the last 5 years avoiding use of the word “segregation,” to decide whether that proposal will become city policy:

The Report is an interim report, I fear the final report will be up to the next mayor.

New York Schools Are the Most Segregated in the Nation: Are There Remedies? Is There the Political Will to Implement Remedies? And, Does School Integration Matter without Economic Equality?

n May, 2014 the UCLA Civil Rights Project issued a deeply disturbing report: Brown at 60: Great Progress, a Long Retreat and an Uncertain Future , the nation was slowly but surely moving away from integration to increasingly segregated schools.

In the unanimous Supreme Court decision, Brown v Board of Education (1954), the court ruled that “separate is inherently unequal,” and, the nation, albeit slowly, moved toward ending segregated schools. In reluctant states the courts ordered desegregation plans that were monitored by the courts. As court-ordered and court -enforced integration spread throughout the South the demographics in the nation continued to change, white populations declined, black populations rose and Latino populations skyrocketed.

Six decades of “separate but equal” as the law of the land have now been followed by six decades of “separate is inherently unequal” as our basic law. The Brown decision set large changes and political conflicts in motion and those struggles continue today.

In little more than four decades, enrollment trends in the nation’s schools (between 1968 and 2011) show a 28% decline in white enrollment, a 19% increase in the black enrollment, and an almost unbelievable 495% percent increase in the number of Latino students.

At the peak, 44% of black … students were in majority-white schools, the kind of schools that provided strong potential opportunities for diverse learning experiences. By 2011, that number had declined to 23%, a drop by nearly half, and the decline has accelerated in recent
years.

The most striking element in the report, the state with the most segregated schools: New York State.

How could a state that prides itself as the most progressive state in the nation, one of the first states to pass a marriage equality law, a massive and progressive Medicaid system, both a governor and a mayor with deep progressive roots, also house the most segregated school system in the nation?

How can the state and the city begin to remedy the issue?

And, perhaps a deeper discussion, should the goal be to racially integrate schools? Is the goal of a racially integrated society still relevant sixty years after the Brown decision?

After page after page, chart after chart the report makes a series of recommendations:

* We recommend substantial expansion of magnet school funding,
strong civil rights policies for charter schools, serious incentives for regional collaboration, and teacher training for diverse and racially changing schools.

Are these recommendations the responsibility of the states or the federal government? What does the report mean by “strong civil rights policies for charter schools”? Does the report support federal funds for creating integrated charter schools? With a Republican Congress the recommendations are illusory.

* We … recommend that the Administration create a joint HUD, Justice Department, and Education Department staff assigned to work with experts outside government in devising a plan to support durable integration in communities and schools in the many racially changing suburbs, in gentrifying city neighborhoods, and in other locations.

Why would states accept the advice of “experts” to devise a plan to “support durable integration”? States look upon the federal government as intrusive, for example, the last seven years of the Obama investigation.

* We recommend that regional educators, researchers, urban planners and civil rights groups examine the results of various forms of regional cooperation in order to devise plans for regional magnets and student and faculty transfers. State officials could consider incentives or requirements for regional collaboration.

Once again the responsibility to “reduce racial isolation” lies with the states. Independent school districts are deeply entrenched in our history – school boards have not ignored “regional collaboration,” school boards have set up walls to continue racial isolation.

* We recommend that researchers, education writers, educational officials and leaders, education associations, teachers and teachers organizations begin to very actively communicate with the larger society about the vast opportunity gaps that exist and the costs of isolating disadvantaged children from middle class students and from students of other races in schools often overwhelmed by problems they did not cause and cannot completely overcome by themselves.

Asking the professional education community to “very actively communicate with the larger community” is beyond the scope of the role of educators. Barriers to integration are complex and in many cases did not happen by accident.

* [Educators] need to recommend systems of assessment and rewards that would keep good teachers in low-income minority schools rather than drive them out. They need to work very hard on broadening the diversity in their own ranks, which would entail a comprehensive effort of colleges of education, state education agencies, and teachers’ unions examining the ways in which the teaching preparation pipeline may lose teaching candidates of color. And they need, right now, to demand a voice in decisions which have been too often made in recent decades by politicians, foundation leaders, and others without any knowledge of the actual challenges facing schools segregated by race, poverty and language.

The New York City school system supports an “open market” transfer system, any teacher can transfer to any school and thousands of teachers avail themselves of the plan – a plan that encourages teachers to move from “low-income minority schools” to higher achieving schools. The current required pre-service teacher certification exams have resulted in significantly higher failure rates among applicants of color. These policies are the antithesis of the recommendation supra. To recommend that educators
“demand a voice” to counter decisions made by “politicians, foundation leaders, and others without a knowledge of the actual challenges” is an incredible burden in the era of Arne Duncan and the reformers’

The report concludes,

But a real celebration should also involve thinking seriously about
why the country has turned away from the goal of Brown and accepted deepening polarization and inequality in our schools. It is time to stop celebrating a version of history that ignores our last quarter century of retreat and to begin make new history by finding ways to apply the vision of Brown in a transformed, multiracial society in another century.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his brilliant and deeply troubling book, Between the World and Me (August, 2015) would disagree with the goal of racial integration of schools; he would abjure the “vision of Brown in a transformed, multiracial society ….” For Coates, “White America is a syndicate arrayed to protect exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies. Sometimes this power is direct (lynching) and sometimes it insidious (redlining). But however it appears, the power of domination and exclusion is central to the belief in being white, and without it “white people” would cease to exist for want of reasons.”

For Coates the concept of integration is a sham.

The New York City Council is strongly advocating that the Department of Education pursue integration policies. The School Diversity Accountability Act requires, “…[a report that] will include extensive school-by-school data, down to the grade level (and within specialized programs like gifted and talented programs), as well as the Department’s specific efforts and initiatives to strengthen diversity.” that is due in December, 2015.

Over the remainder of the school year school the issue of school integration will move to the forefront: expect a major and wide ranging debate.