Urging a Bolder Diversity Plan for NYC Schools

Advocates rallied at City Hall on Thursday to demand anti-bias training for teachers and culturally relevant education for students. (Photo by Christina Veiga via Chalkbeat)

School advocates and lawmakers took the Department of Education to task on Thursday for not moving fast enough to integrate NYC schools and raise diversity awareness among teachers, reports Christina Veiga in Chalkbeat. For one thing, despite having allocated funds for anti-bias training for 600 teachers, noted protesters at City Hall, no training has yet taken place this school year.

Without such trainings and teaching materials that reflect students’ backgrounds, schools cannot become truly integrated, said Angel Martinez, the mother of three children in Harlem.

“It’s not just about putting black and brown children into predominantly white classrooms,” Martinez said Thursday outside City Hall at a rally organized by the Coalition for Educational Justice. “That’s not diversity. That’s just a color scheme.”

The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio in June committed to a plan to increase diversity in the city schools, among the most segregated in the country. But some lawmakers criticize the plan for not going far enough.

Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx faulted the city for not mentioning segregation or integration in its plan, opting instead for “diversity.”

“I worry that we’re white-washing the historical context of racial segregation,” Torres said. “It’s not only about words. It’s about a proper diagnosis.”

He urged officials to “be bold” and eliminate the admissions policy that lets “screened” schools select students based on grades, attendance, and other factors. The city’s plan does do away with an admissions policy that gave an edge to students who attend a school open house. Black and Hispanic students were less likely than their peers to benefit from that policy.

Go to Chalkbeat to read what education officials had to say in defense of the plan.

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