A Step Closer to Integration in a Brooklyn School District?

The city approved a plan to eliminate selective admissions to try to integrate District 15 middle schools. (Photo by Christina Veiga via Chalkbeat)

In one of the most extensive moves toward school integration taken under the de Blasio administration, the Department of Education approved an overhaul to the admissions process in a Brooklyn district. The city has also introduced a $2 million grant program for diversity initiatives in districts across the five boroughs.

Writing in Chalkbeat, Christina Veiga reports that the admissions change is coming to the 11 middle schools in Brooklyn’s District 15, which includes Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Red Hook and Sunset Park. She notes that it is a district “where students are starkly segregated by race and class.”

Under the new system, District 15 middle schools will no longer “screen” their students based on factors such as report card grades, test scores, or auditions for performing arts programs — eliminating selective admissions criteria altogether. Instead, the district will use a lottery that gives extra weight to students who come from low-income families, are learning English as a new language, or are homeless.

The aim is to enroll a similar share of needy students across each of the district’s 11 middle schools. And since class is often tied to race and ethnicity, the lottery priority could also spur student diversity on a range of different measures.

Families will still be able to apply to their preferred schools “so overhauling enrollment policies will have little effect unless parents are willing to consider a wide range of options.” Nonetheless, this admissions change is just the beginning in integration efforts, say District 15 parents who were a part of drafting the plan.

Go to Chalkbeat to read more on the diversity plan – which also includes designating $500,000 toward resources and training – and what one parent considers “the solution” to the segregation problem beyond just changes to the admissions process.

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